enthusiasts take off in the footsteps of a famous airline

enthusiasts take off in the footsteps of a famous airline
enthusiasts take off in the footsteps of a famous airline

Several crews took a departure like no other from Toulouse airport (Haute-Garonne) on Thursday May 9. They fly to Tarfaya in Morocco and follow in the footsteps of the famous Aéropostale, an airline which made it possible to distribute mail to the four corners of the world at the beginning of the 20th century. An adventure filled with symbols and emotion.

Reproduce the route of the historic Aéropostale. This is the project undertaken for the 3rd consecutive year by members of the Flight of Pioneers and the Saint-Exupéry Foundation for Youth in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne). Since Thursday May 9, they have been in the air towards Tarfaya in the south of Morocco, following in the footsteps of this historic airline.

This line was created in 1918 when Pierre-Georges Latécoère aimed to transport mail from Toulouse to South America. The following year, his project was successful: a Toulouse-Rabat flight was successfully completed after 28 hours of flight. This is the beginning of a long adventure which will serve, by courier, the cities of Dakar (Senegal) and Buenos Aires in 1928.

This is what the members of these crews perpetuate. Before departure, France 3 Occitanie followed the final preparations and the final briefing on Wednesday. “We recall the constraints such as not flying over military zones” summarizes Clémentine Roques, crew pilot.

For her, this crossing 100 years later is “an incredible chance, a golden opportunity“.”We go to legendary places. Back then, mail was delivered to unthinkable places. This has a very strong symbolism” she savors.

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Clémentine Roques and Sébastien Valenza – pilot and teacher at the Cité de l’Espace – make the final adjustments to their device.

© Thierry Villeger / FTV

The crews did not fly empty-handed: they carried mail and school supplies in bags typical of the era. It was middle school students from Bessières (Haute-Garonne) who prepared this material to offer to the children of Tarfaya.

Among the organizers, Christophe Chaffardon is responsible for education and science at Flight of the Pioneers. This 3rd edition “is very special” according to him because 2024 is the year of the 80th anniversary of the death of Saint-Exupéry. “Aéropostale was about connecting people together. This is what we continue to do today with this rally” he continues.

All the people here are passionate about this story, about all these characters who made us dream. We are going to follow in their footsteps and see in flight what they saw in the desert at the time” he salivates. The landscapes have changed little since the last century.

Some drivers are lining up for this rally for the 2nd consecutive year. This is the case of Daniel Perroud, a Swiss aviator. “It’s a childhood dream“repeats the one who lived through one”Magic moment” when arriving in Tarfaya last year.

We say to ourselves: that’s it, we’re there, we’ve gone back 100 years. I still get the chills, we were crying at the finish. When we saw the children running towards our plane, it was moments of intense happiness. I wondered what we had done to deserve so much gratitude” he narrates.

The crews made a stopover in Alicante, then Agadir before arriving in Tarfaya tomorrow. The return to Toulouse is planned for May 18, with a head full of memories.

With Pascale Felix

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