|Text & Pictures: Régis Rocca © sbap 2013|
On September 23rd, 1913, Roland Garros went down in history as the first pilot to fly across the Mediterranean in 7 hours and 53 minutes. The Morane took off at 05.47 hrs from the French Navy's airfield in Fréjus, carrying 200 l of fuel and 60 l of castor oil. Garros used only a compass and a watch for navigation. His engine suffered two failures, off Corsica and off Sardinia. His tank held only 5 l of fuel when he landed in Bizerte, Tunisia.
100 years later, another flyer, Baptiste Salis (who belongs to the Salis family, well known in aviation circles) repeated this performance at the controls of an identical Morane Saulnier, an exact replica built by Réplic'air on the original plans.
Simultaneously, the Association of Reunion Island Military Pilots (Association des Pilotes Militaires Réunionnais, Garros was born on the island) and the Commission for Disabled Pilots of France's Aeroclub organized an anniversary commemoration.A fleet composed of a 1943 DC3, owned and flown by Georges Perez, several Cirrus aircraft (one SR20 and two SR22), one Beech A36 Bonanza and one Piper PA-28 took off for Tunisia, with pilots from both groups at the controls.
They got along famously, sharing a brand new aeronautical experience. The outbound flight took them from Cannes to Bizerte (military airbase) via Figari, the return flight from Bizerte to the various home aerodromes of the aircraft. A great success.
A distinguished guest was among the participants: Jean-Pierre Lefèvre-Garros, Roland Garros' nephew, a fount of knowledge about his uncle's life and the author of a biography published in 2001.
He was, together with all the members of the expedition, extended a very warm and friendly welcome by the Tunisian civil and military authorities.
On september 23rd, anniversary date of the crossing, a plaque was unveiled in a square in Bizerte, with the Mayor of the town in attendance, as well as members of both associations, shoolchildren from La Réunion and a number of French, Réunion and Tunisian journalists.
A fine ceremony, and a great symbol of the bond of friendship established by Garros on the occasion of his historic flight.
On behalf of SBAP, I would like to thank the pillars of the APMR association: its Founder and President Jean-Marie Perrier, an untiring and perfect organizer, Thierry, Greg, Babouc, Loïc, Jobap as well as Ludovic Béjot, CPH President, always there when you need him and his most charming Vice-President Manon Altazin, all the members of the Disabled Pilots Association and of the Miraud Volants (The Aeroclub «Bats»).
My thanks also go to Georges Perez, Tim Ellison and all the pilots...
Special thanks to Charlotte Bellec (Cirrus Aircraft) for her kindness, her relaxed attitude, her piloting skills and her sense of humor!
|The Morane type H replica, the same as Roland Garros in 2013||Baptiste Salis...100 years later, ready to cross the Mediterranean Sea|
|A few minutes before||Taking off from Fréjus|
|Good luck!||Like it was in 1913|
|In the footsteps of Roland Garros...|
|Corsican mountains||A HUGE experience|
|The 1943 DC-3||The plane wears the logo of the APMR|
|This remains a beautifull aircraft|
|Flying with the legend|
Manon Altazin at the controls of the DC-3
|Beech A36 Bonanza||Cirrus SR-22|
|P&W engine cover||The Tunisian coast|
|Piper PA-28RT Turbo Arrow||Cirrus SR-20|
|Above Bizerte area|
|Jean-Pierre Lefèvre-Garros, the nephew of Roland Garros||Jean-Marie Perrier APMR president|
|Mr Mohamed Riadh Lazzem, Bizerte Mayor|
|The plate inaugurated for the commemoration|
|Roland Garros spirit||"Babouc", Rafale pilot in the French Air Force|
|APMR team interviewed by TV journalist|
|"Greg", SEM pilot in the French Navy||Ludovic Béjot, CPH President|
|Manon Altazin, CPH Vice-President||Attention to details...even on headphones|
|SR-22 instrument panel||Heading back to France|
|The patches and logo created by Régis Rocca for this unique remembrance|
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