After two years of effort, the big day has arrived! On the former Naval Air Base at Frejus it’s still dark but the Réplic'Air team is hard at work; and the pressure, above all, is on Baptiste Salis, who is shouldering the responsibility.
At 29, and an aircraft mechanic by trade, he is the only one that will be in control of the Morane G joystick during the crossing. Just a few minutes now before the pilot lines up his flying machine on the airstrip, and he needs all the concentration he can muster. "Right now we are down to the real heart of the matter: the preparation of the machine, check that everything’s OK, on your marks. All there is to do now is, GO!".
And when you have to go, you have to go. Finally everything is ready; the machine is gingerly brought out of the hangar before a crowd of curious onlookers. Positioned on the grass strip, the Morane G and its pilot are finally ready to cross the Mediterranean; 100 years after Roland Garros.
At 08:21 in the morning, history is being repeated. Thanks to the good weather, the flight is going as planned; the aircraft is over Corsica, and then Sardinia. After more than seven and a half hours of flight, Tunisia is finally in sight. The gamble has paid off. During a low pass, this pioneer of modern times saluted the 1,000 people who came to applause, and has just touched down with his two spoked-wheeled undercarriage on the Bizerte airfield.
A challenging flight, both technically, and physically. "It was a little worrying at times, but the sight of the Tunisian coast was a great relief. It's still quite amazing, but it's even so, it’s a pretty tiring eight-hour flight. I won’t be doing this every day!".
The hommage to Roland Garros has been paid magnificently. This week, the Morane G, will return to France aboard a ship, following that, the ‘plane will then participate in several airshows, starting with Gimont in the Gers (South-West France) on October 6th; one way of prolonging this real adventure a little longer.
On the same topic, watch the other video reports.