Ancient history

The mail race

Mail is, in fact, one of the main beneficiaries of the prodigious development of aviation. “The future of all postal mail is up in the air. We can believe the man who utters this sentence. It was Didier Daurat, who was the soul of Aéropostale. After the dissolution of this company, he wanted to devote himself to the organization of airmail in France. He
finds that at that time a letter took twice as long from Paris to Angers as, by plane, from Paris to Casablanca. Supported by the Minister of P.T.T., Georges Mandel, he organizes with Beppo de Massimi, Air Bleu.
A beautiful name and a beautiful ambition:to connect all the major cities of France by a network 'send a letter from Paris to Toulouse or Nantes in the morning, and receive the reply the same evening.
As usual, Daurat wastes no time. He ordered a model of aircraft, three of which were delivered four months later. They are small Caudrons, driven by a 180 hp Renault-Bengali. On July 10, 1935, Georges Mandel, head straight above his eternal broken collar, hands the first mail bag to Raymond Vannier. This one will drive his plane, not like an ordinary air mailman, but like a racing pilot. He landed in Tours, Poitiers, Angoulême, Bordeaux and returned to Paris. How long are the stopovers? One minute. One minute to take the mail, sign the slips and shake hands with the comrades. In winter, a three-minute stop is allowed.
Week after week, Air Bleu expands its network. In the spring of 1936, it connected twenty-two cities. Daurat, present everywhere, aware of everything, maintains the tone of the pilots. Despite wind, icing, snow or mist, we pass. At the end of the summer of 1939, the mail planes — they are now Goéland twin-engines — covered two million kilometers and transported 538 tons of mail with a regularity of 98 to 99.5%.
These daily victories were won thanks to the mastery of the pilots. They also highlight the progress of air navigation instruments:gyroscopic compass and "Sperry" with artificial horizon. The radio guidance allows flight without visibility.
The lines of the aircraft are purified. Cells are best studied in wind tunnels — in France, that of Chalais-Meudon. Engineers can observe aerodynamic phenomena that affect aircraft in flight. Curvature flaps and slotted wings provide better stability.
Compressors increase engine power. The variable pitch of the propellers gives them better performance, but the conclusive tests carried out by the Germans on the Heinkel-112 and 116 let us foresee the imminent advent of jet planes.

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