Each year, the Latecoere-Aéropostale Rally gathers aviation and history enthusiasts who want to retrace an epic route. From 23 September to 8 October 2016, twenty-six crews took part in the Rally in Africa, from Toulouse to Dakar, with mythic stops along the Aéropostale route: Alicante, Rabat, Casablanca, Fez, Cape Juby, Villa Cisneros, Port Etienne, and Saint-Louis (Senegal).
“Aviation connecting people”: this was the vision of Pierre-Georges Latecoere, the founder of Lignes Aériennes Latecoere which became Aéropostale. And this phrase perfectly sums up the philosophy of the Latecoere-Aéropostale Rally, an adventure full of humanism, connecting people through cultural and charitable projects in the countries once flown over by the pioneers of aviation. At every stop, the crews support charity projects centred on aeronautics and education. The aerial route flown each year by the Rally’s crews is a line of solidarity, bringing aid to future generations along the way.
Engaging with the world
On the eve of the big day, after the briefing and final adjustments to the machines, the crews savour a last evening together in Toulouse. Among those present are the families of the pioneers of aviation (Saint-Exupéry, Guynemer, Mermoz, etc.) and present-day heroes such as explorer Laurence de la Ferrière (the first and only woman to have crossed Antarctica) and Catherine Maunoury (two-time World Aerobatics Champion).
Emmanuel Rémy, a pilot and Vice-President of Sales for the Latecoere Group, is visibly moved as he addresses the assembly: “In a time of ever-fiercer competition, when supply is becoming over-abundant and uncertainty is growing, you the descendants of these adventurers who fed the dreams of our childhood, you the crews preparing to continue a tradition, through your engagement with the world, your passion for aviation, and your will surpass your limits, you embody the fundamental values that Latecoere was founded on.”
The dates for the 2017 edition have been set for 15 to 23 September. But before then, in March 2017, the Rally will cover Aéropostale’s other sector in South America.
The longest aerial rally in the world
The Latecoere-Aéropostale Rally will start in Buenos Aires on 25 March, reaching Ushuaïa on April 1st. From there, it will go through the Cordillera to Mendoza, with a passage in Chile, and finishing in Buenos Aires on 9 April. The second loop will leave Buenos Aires on 15 April, reaching the high plains of Altiplano on 22 April, and then following the Rio Parana to the Rio des Plata. The third session will leave from Buenos Aires on 6 May, heading to Brazil with a stop in Uruguay.
Before then, immerse yourself in a book just published by Editions Privat: “Et la ligne vivra ! Latecoere, 11 avril 1927” (The line will live on! Latecoere, 11 April 1927). The Elon Musk of the 1920s, Pierre-Georges Latecoere was the mastermind behind an ambitious project: creating the first airline to connect France and Chile. This company known as “La Ligne” would become Aéropostale and then Air France. Pierre-Georges Latecoere was a man of great culture, as cultivated as he was bold as a brilliant engineer and manufacturer. In the collective memory, however, he is eclipsed by the other great men who, thanks to him, lived one of the greatest adventures of the twentieth century: Mermoz, Saint-Exupéry and Daurat.
The author, science historian Jacques Arnould, is fascinated with the human dimension of scientific and technical adventures. He works on ethical questions at the French Space Agency (CNES – Centre national d’études spatiales).
@photos : Association Raid Latecoere, Groupe Latecoere, Spot Air.