• 17


    Air France : 65 Years in The Antilles

      The 1947 air link with France marked a turning point for the French West Indies, now one of the world’s most popular destinations. Text Marc Branchu It was 6am on July 6, 1947, Fort-de-France, Martinique, and a crowd had gathered on the waterfront. The local papers had announced the arrival of a huge flying boat, marking Air France’s inaugural flight between Paris and the French Antilles (French West Indies). Up to then, flights between the island and the United States and France…

  • 08


    The Flying MailMen

    Airmail changed the 20th century and Saint-Exupéry gave it legendary status. This month the service celebrates its centenary. - Text Marc Branchu Mermoz, Guillaumet, Daurat are the famous names linked to the extraordinary development of airmail delivery. Yet these legendary pilots may have nabbed the limelight from an earlier exploit: regular airmail service began in India, on February 18, 1911, exactly 100 years ago. One small hop for man That day, an unknown pilot, Frenchman Henri Péquet, carried a 15-kilogram mailbag…

  • 29


    Rebel on high

    Insufferable on the ground, divine in the air, Adrienne Bolland was the heroine of the Andes, 90 years ago. - Text Marc Branchu Adrienne Bolland was arguably the most foul-tempered female pilot on the planet. Born in 1895, the youngest of six children, she had to fight for the attention of her father, guidebook writer Henri Boland. She was known as “the little terror.” In her own words: “No one could change my mind. I kept saying, ‘I won’t give up.’…

  • 08


    Mankind’s first flight?

    On October 9, 1890, Frenchman Clément Ader supposedly made history with the first flight. Yet doubts remain. - text Marc Branchu Did the first airplane fly in France, on October 9, 1890? The question remains unanswered, 120 years later. On that day, Clément Ader supposedly flew 50 meters, just 20 centimeters off the ground, aboard Éole I, a bat-like machine with a 20 HP steam-powered motor. “Supposedly” is the operative word here, as the only observers at the scene were…

  • 20


    Spreading their wings

    In the early 20th century, it took guts and a strong personality for a woman to conquer the skies. Meet the pioneers. — By Marc Branchu   Élise Deroche, Harriet Quimby, Bessie Coleman… With the exception of Amelia Earhart, the names of these early woman pilots have been all but forgotten. And yet. In the early 20th century, they put wings, literally, on the movement for women’s emancipation. Standing up to the reigning male chauvinism, they faced obstacles that were…

  • 20


    A century of air cargo

    The delivery of a batch of silk via aircraft in 1910 ushered in the age of air freight. A look back at the history of a little-known activity, from Aéropostale, to Air France Cargo to UPS. — By Marc Branchu   November 7, 1910, Columbus, Ohio. End-of-year sales were approaching and Max Morehouse, who owned the town’s largest store, wanted to pull off an advertising stunt that would grab people’s attention. Being an aviation enthusiast, he came up with the…

  • 20


    Our man in the Orient

    In the early 1920s, Maurice Noguès pursued a single-minded dream: to create an air link between France and the Far East. Step by step, he established a route to Saigon. - By Marc Branchu   Their names were Henri Guillaumet, Jean Dagnaux and Pierre-Georges Latécoère. They were aviators or captains of industry. Flying primitive aircraft, they risked their lives to create air links between France and the rest of the world. Maurice Noguès was one such pilot, although his accomplishments were eclipsed…

  • 01


    The lofty route from Paris to London

    Ninety years ago, the first commercial flight to London ended the UK’s isolation. - By Marc Branchu Paris/London is not the most widely traveled route—that distinction goes to Pusan/Seoul, with more than 6 million passengers per year. But historically, it has always been one of the most important. It was the first air link between two countries.   A post-war link. February 8, 1919. Bundled up in a leather jacket against the cold that was blanketing the Paris Region, Lucien…

  • 24


    KLM turns 90

    The world’s oldest airline owes its longevity to its reliable fleet, long-haul network and passenger service. - By Marc Branchu Created in September 1919, KLM is the world’s oldest airline, predating Lufthansa (1926), Air France (1933) and Continental Airlines (1937). How did a country that’s not much larger than the French region of Aquitaine create such a successful and long-lasting major airline? It’s a story that goes back 90 years.   Ten years after the Channel crossing. September 1919 With…