The legendary Pioneers

Round the World Flight with HB-PON 2008/09
Rolf Martin FRIEDEN & Manfred Melloh
Sun 4 Dec 2005 13:13

The legendary pioneers

During our return flight through Africa, we spent one night at the Hôtel de la Poste in Saint Louis in
northwestern Senegal. It was in this hotel where Jean Mermoz, the legendary French pilot stayed
between two South Atlantic “Aéropostale” crossings.

The history:

The first flying postmen have sometimes paid the price of their life, for a fantastic adventure.

Today, flying across the world with commercial airliners is comfortable easy, and seams now to be a
pure for formality. The millions of daily flight passengers can do this today, thanks to the early precursors
in commercial aviation. Some of these for sighting flight pioneers were looking for possible ways to
approach Europe with South America already as early as 1918.

The step-by-step realization of this dream took then the best part of the following 10 years. The first part
of this long distance, France- Morocco was regularly linked commercially, starting from the 9th of
March 1919, whereas the leg between Casablanca and Dakar in Senegal was inaugurated on the 1st of
June 1925.
Three years later, Toulouse in France was then air linked commercially with Buenos Aires, Argentina in
South America. With different extensions to this initial route between Europe and South America,
it was the possible to establish the then longest commercial air route (13’000 KM), over flying nine countries
in three continents. Up to the end of the regular flights on that initial route in 1940, there were 256 flights
recorded across the South Atlantic. The history tells, that during those initial years of commercial air service,
121 people-, Pilots-, Radio operators-, Mechanics, have disappeared and lost their lives.

Jean Mermoz, possibly the most famous between them all, had realized the first ever, non- stop South Atlantic
crossing in 20 hours between Senegal and Brazil in 1930.
Flying with only very rudimentary navigational equipment such as a compass, a sextant and a watch at time,
Jean Mermoz, no doubt played an important part, to create the profession of airline pilots.