The specialists perusing the museumlike terminals had never seen such a deployment of mythical aircraft in France.
"Usually there is only one Hurricane or Spitfire, flying on patrol," exclaimed Colonel Pignier, a retired officer. It was such during the Battle of Britain, an illustrating moment for the Royal Air Force, for whom 2018 marks 100 years of existence.
"There are only a handful of air shows around the world that can be called the First Airshow Division," explains Christian Amara, who owns eight historic French aircraft, including a 1936 Catalina hydroplane that sank a German submarine. "In France, the traditional "Le Temps des Hélices" meeting, which is held at La Ferté-Allais every weekend of Pentecost, is part of this list. From now on, it will be necessary to add the Paris-Villaroche Air Legend."
Amara, who is committed to the event's success, does not hesitate to compare it to other meetings that are popular with historic aviation enthusiasts, such as Oshkosh in the United States and Duxford in Great Britain.
"Paris, the capital of aerial adventure in the early twentieth century, found the legend of airmen," he says.
The Melun-Villaroche aerodrome itself belongs to the great aeronautical history. It was created before the Second World War and was later the setting of many experimental flights, military and civil, until the 1980s. Dassault, Breguet, Morane-Saulnier, Potez, and many other builders even made it their test center.
Many traces remain from this past, starting with the majestic hangars, which Gustave Eiffel designed. Shielded from a gigantic sky by metal, aircraft--some reduced to wrecks, others with the aftermath of turbulent landings--seem to have been there for eternity. But passionate mechanics are working to restore their former glory and allow some, at least the least damaged, to come back one day.