Saturday, March 10, 2012

TAAF - Juan de Nova

I prepared this cover last November and received it this past week. I used the Juan de Nova 'air accident' stamps that were issued in January of 2011. The stamps depict a historical event which at first I didn't see as very significant but after a bit of web searching and reading I've come to realize this isn't the case. 

One website documented the event commemorated by the stamps quite well and here is my summary of the information:

On Dec 8, 1929, Captain Marcel Goulette along with pilot Rene Marchesseau and mechanic Jean Michel Bourgeois set out in Goulette's Farman F-192 from Ivato, Madasgar to Quelimane, Mozambique. This was the start of their return journey to Paris from Reunion: a journey that started in Paris on 17 Oct 1927. They left Ivato at 1AM and after a few hours of flight, Marchesseau noticed fuel leaking from the plane. Specifically, he felt it sloshing around his feet. Perhaps this had something to do with the engine replacement the plane had undergone in Ivato. Fortunately, the island of Juan de Nova was near by. They circled for a time looking for a suitable place to land before eventually bringing the plane in for a safe landing shortly after 4AM. During landing the plane sustained damage to its skin and needed repairs. A couple of days later, Marchesseau and Goulette boarded a steamer sent to assist them and set off to locate parts to repair the plane. Bourgeois remained on the island to tend the plane and clear a proper airstrip. He was not alone on the island as during that time the island was inhabited, mainly by workers mining Guano for export. On 28 Jan Marchesseau and Goulette returned with parts and fuel and they spent the next 3 days repairing the plane. After 54 days on the island the F-JAAB took flight once more, leaving Juan de Nova on 1 Feb, 1930.

So why produce a set of stamps to commemorate what seems like such a minor event? For one, it was the first time a plane had landed on the island. From a philatelic point of view, the mail being carried aboard the F-AJJB became "rare" once it landed on Juan de Nova (aboard the first plane to land on the island) and had to be transferred to a steamer to continue its journey by sea. Also, the event itself was part of a much larger more significant journey that was a part of early French aviation history. This was the first flight from Paris to Reunion. A monument was even erected in Reunion to commemorate their arrival. The F-JAAB never made it back to France. A sandstorm in the Sahara forced the crew to ditch the plane on 22 April 1930 and the three men had to be rescued from the desert. Today, another F-192 (No 4) sits in the French Air and Space museum, repainted to match the F-JAAB (No 3). There is a monument at Juan de Nova, commemorating the renaming of the Juan de Nova airstrip to "Goulette-Marchesseau-Bourgeois" on 23 Dec 2010, around the same time the stamps were issued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic cover !!!

Regards Luciano