Air France pays tribute to Adrienne Bolland, the first woman to fly across the Andes on 1 April 1921
— La saga
Air France is commemorating the centenary of the crossing of the Andes by pioneer Adrienne Bolland.
On 1 April 1921, the 25-year-old pilot took off from Mendoza in Argentina in a two-seater Caudron G3 without a map or compass. Reaching a speed of 50 km/h, she crossed the Andes near the highest point, the Aconcagua - almost 7,000 metres above sea level - and landed in Santiago de Chile after 4 hours and 15 minutes flight time, during which she had to endure extreme temperatures (-26°C).
One hundred years after this feat and in tribute to Adrienne Bolland, two commercial flights, operated by Boeing 777 and Boeing 787, took off simultaneously from Paris-Charles de Gaulle on 31 March to land in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires on 1 April. To celebrate the event, seven women pilots made up the flight deck crews.
Across the Atlantic, the French Ambassador in Buenos Aires, the Minister of Transport accompanied by the French Ambassador in Santiago, as well as the Air France Regional Managers, were all present on arrival of these flights to welcome all the crews and passengers.
Supported by the French Association of Women Pilots, this event was accompanied by a communication operation at the Aéro-Club de France in Paris.
If women have access to all airline industry professions today, it is thanks to the pioneers of aviation such as Adrienne Bolland and their fight to have their skills recognized.
More than 85 years of Air France service to Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires
Before 1946, the routes between France and South America were operated by l'Aéropostale for carrying mail, and included some fifteen stopovers, with seaplanes taking turns to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In June 1946, Air France launched the Paris-Rio-Buenos Aires-Santiago route to passengers via Casablanca, Dakar, Recife, Rio and Montevideo, which took 58 hours by DC-4. The Santiago section was suspended in September, then reopened in 1961. With the advent of ever more efficient jets, frequencies were accelerated and flight times reduced. In 1960, the B707 made it possible to fly from Paris to Buenos Aires in 15 hours and five stages. In 1993, Air France inaugurated its longest non-stop flight, 13.5 hours, between Paris and Buenos Aires before continuing its route to Santiago de Chile, by A340. Initially twice-weekly, services became daily in 2000. In 2001, Air France launched the Paris-Santiago route, with a flight time of 14 hours and 5 minutes, which became its longest route.
This summer, Air France will operate up to 4 weekly frequencies by Boeing 787 to Buenos Aires, and up to 3 weekly frequencies by Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 to Santiago de Chile.