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Article publish on lematin.ch the 9th of June 2021

He restore a plane in memory of his deceased father

A historic plane is a paternal legacy dear to photographer Christophe Senehi, but the passion has a price: 100,000 francs.

A 1946 airplane grounded since 2015, this is the paternal heritage that worries the Neuchâtel photographer Christophe Senehi, established in Bôle with a studio in Lausanne. A renovation of the aircraft is imperative, but the passion has a cost: 100,000 francs, which is to be raised through a participatory financing.

Aviation made his childhood eyes shine: “The first time I took the train, I was more surprised than my friends. I was used to getting on a plane…”, smiles Christophe Senehi (47).

His father, of Iranian origin, had a career in the aeronautics industry in Neuchâtel. Born in France in 1936, this specialist in on-board instruments turned an American passenger plane marketed in 1946 and imported in 1957 into a symbol of freedom. “He loved the freedom to fly”, his son summarized.

North American Aviation

It was in 1962 that Claude Senehi acquired with friends a “Navion” from the manufacturer “North American Aviation”. “Thanks to his skills in avionics, mechanics and aeronautical engineering, he was authorized to maintain his plane himself by the federal civil aviation authorities”, reports his son, who was trained as a computer scientist.

Passionate about aviation, Claude Senehi maintained the “Navion” in its original condition until the end of its life. His son refused to sell a jewel cherished by his father for 60 years: he took over, with the ambition to save a unique aircraft in Europe. “I grew up with this plane, it was like my big brother”, says Christophe Senehi.

To honor his father’s memory, Christophe completed his private pilot training and obtained his pilot’s license three months ago. “His death was a trigger. Suddenly, I understood that without a license, I would not fly anymore”, confides Christophe Senehi.

Since 2015, following a change in regulations, the “Navion” is parked in a hangar at Colombier airport. Its engine needs to be refurbished and all its flight systems revised: “As a follower of sustainable development, my father did not throw anything away and repaired everything”, says Christophe, for whom the “Navion” is to aviation what the “Ferrari 250 GTO” is to the automobile.

Swiss Navion Club

“This legendary aircraft, heir to the famous “P-51 Mustang”, will be back in the air. It will be a sight to behold and an experience for the ears”, promised Christophe Senehi. This heir founded last month the association “Club Navion Suisse” and the website “www.Navion.ch” with the mission to save a historic aircraft “that marked a turning point in light aviation in the 20th century”.

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