AERO-CLUB OF BEARN: CRADLE OF AVIATION
When time invites them there, that is often,a lot of Palois of any ages give as purpose of walk, the neighborhoods of the municipal Aerodrome of Pau. There, these spectators enjoying pure air, peace, beauty, dream, become fast the accustomed of the different activities of Aéro-Club of Bearn of which it is necessary to know origin and life, bus his past is prestigious, its activity of foreground and its promising future.
Aéro-Club of Bearn has a prestigious past. He is the "leader" of the French history and the world history of the Aviation and " PAU'S BETH CEU " (Pau's beautiful sky), sung by the poet Darrichon, is not foreign to it.
It can seem paradoxical but everything begins in the United States, on December 17, 1903: Orville Wright takes place aboard an aircraft equipped for the first time with an internal combustion engine and it manages to hold air by going through 40 metres. Immediately, his brother Wilbur exceeds 65 metres, then Orville 66 metres and, helping competition, Wilbur realizes 280 metres in 59 seconds, in some metres in height. This day, on their " Kitty Hawk ", the Wright brothers, Americans of Dayton (Ohio), gave wings to the man. They will pursue then their attempts in a climate of incredulity. We are still well far from Pau's climate,
In 1908, a french man, Mr. Lazare Weiler, proposes to the two brothers Wright a contract containing two very hard clauses for time:
-A two hours flight with a passenger,
-Training of three pilots.
Meanwhile, from 1903 till 1908, similar experiments succeeded one another in our country with Santos-Dumont, Blériot, Farman... This one covers in January, 1908 a one kilometre closed circuit. The brothers Wright, worried about progress of the French pioneers, progress which they logical due to compared studies led with their friend Captain Ferber, decides to come in France. From the signature of the contract, here is in the ground of Hunaudières near Le Mans, then in Auvours's camp. They realize there the first condition of the contract with as passengers successively Mr. Léon Bolée then Mr. Paul Painlevé. But the second clause, the training of three pilots remains difficult under an irregular climate and too violent winds.
Here comes the Pau's beautiful sky! The two aeronaut Paul Tissandier and Henri Sallenave, endowed with the remarkable study of the Dr Miller on the regime of winds and the climate of the region béarnaise, interest without any trouble the brothers Wright. Their engineer and manager, Hart Berg, comes in Bearn and arrests his choice on Pau.
On December 29, 1908, helped by a clear-sighted municipality of which the mayor is Mr. de Lassence, supported by an enthusiastic population, the brother Wright opens to Pau the " first school of aviation of the world ". They first three students were: the Count de Lambert, Paul Tissandier and the Captain Lucas-Gérardville to whom will add René Gasnier de Fresne and Henri Sallenave.
It is necessary to underline that from December 13, 1908, as give evidence the official documents, Paul Tissandier became the President - founder of AéroClub of Bearn, association governed according to the law of July 1-st, 1901. In some days, the deserted moor of the Long Bridge became the centre of attention of France and the World. During two months the personalities from the whole world who are interested in the problem of the rising aviation, give themselves meeting to Pau. On February 20, 1909, the king of Spain is welcomed by the mayor, Mr. de Lassence and the Wright brothers who, in the presence nobility obliges beats the speed record of time: 75 kilometres per hour. Less than a month later on (March 17, 1909 ) his Majesty Edouard VI of England, comes personally, to judge the works of this " first school of aviation " echos of which fill world. Meanwhile, the Wright brothers performed their contract. They get back to the United States where they receive a reception triumphed on behalf of those even which considered them yesterday as authors of childishness.
With the departure of the brothers Wright, Pau will not fall in the neglect. The Blériot school settles down also there and will become the second world school, following on the exploit of this creative genius which crossed the Channel, July 25, 1909. The other schools will be born Nieuport, Voisin, Deperdussin, Morane. One comes to Pau of all the places of the world to pilot and to buy from it strips planes " last model ". New hangars are raised to shelter there two dirigibles: " City of Pau " and ". The Blériot school, become international, sees streaming the pupils of numerous foreign nations. Pau becomes pilots' nursery. In 1911 a second ground is created, then a third...
Hardly these works they are finished that the first school of military aviation is created the Air base 119 was born. The Colonel HISCHAUER based then the Aviation Military Center and the first Aviation Military Unity of the world. It will be the 1-st Regiment of Aviation. It will carry the badge no 1, with which of numerous Palois and Béarnais will leave in the war of 1914. World War One confers an original importance for Bridge - length, become school of training of the military pilots. Our famous herosof war 14-18 learned to fly in this school. Among them Guynemer, Fonck, Védrines, of Goys, Beaumont, Roland Garros, Fronval, Nungesser, etc., spatter on Pau, the glorious brightness of their exploits. Pau knew how to remember this important stage of its history, by dedicating several streets to those that had realized the chapters of glory: the brothers Wright, Paul Tissandier, Blériot, Védrines, Fonck, Roland Garros, Guynemer, Nungesser.... And Gelos's road carries the name of the Dr Speakman.
A monument to the brothers Wright whose Costes and Bellonte will put the first stone was inaugurated on January 30, 1932, with a luxurious ceremonial, on the occasion of a grand one demonstration of French-American friendship. Besides, a stele was raised in front of the military exercise place, of the memory of the Captain Simon, leader - pilot of the famous school of acrobatics formed in 1914.
Today, the Air base 119 is only recollections, enters the School of the Airborne Troops where was born the first school of Parachuting and Pau - Uzein's aerodrome tracks of which answer commercial necessities (passengers, frêt mail) and servicemen (transport and parachuting) or of state-financed civilian rescue organisation (helicopters)... The "Cradle" does not agree any more, from the moment the child became a man and exchanged his toys for super-machines.
But Pau remains Pau, with the " Beth Ceu " where hum the winged birds and where come the "sky riders " with their colored frames. With similar letters of nobility, and in so paradise landscapes, Aéro-Club of Bearn could only know updraughts, which it perfectly used.
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