Antoine de Saint-Exupery
As a symbol of peace, freedom, rapprochement of cultures and sharing, a «Banc de liberté» (A Freedom Bench), created in tribute to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was installed on the cornice of Essaouira, Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
This initiative, carried out in partnership with the Essaouira Mogador Association, comes after the installation of a first "Banc de liberté" in Place Mohammed V in Casablanca. This unprecedented operation, under the auspices of the Unesco-Unesco program, aims to "revive the airpostale, this community having risked its life to carry letters of peace and love between Europe and Africa, "explains the president of the association " Raid Latécoère ", Hervé Berardi. And to continue that "this cultural initiative invites to the exchange and gives access to the writings and cultural contents 365 days a year", recalling that "the Freedom Banks dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a symbol that we deliver in all stopovers ".
After Essaouira, a third "Freedom Bench" will be installed in Tarfaya, as part of activities organized around the 90th anniversary of the arrival of the pilot-writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery in Tarfaya (Cap Juby) occasion of the passage of the Raid Latécoère-Aéropostale.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Aéropostale (formally, Compagnie générale aéropostale) was a pioneering aviation company which operated from 1918 to 1933.
It was founded in 1918 in Toulouse, France, as Société des lignes Latécoère, also known as Lignes aeriennes Latécoère or simply "The Line" (La ligne).
Saint-Exupéry receives his pilot wings
In 1921, Saint-Exupéry began his military service as a basic-rank soldier with the 2e Régiment de chasseurs à cheval (2nd Regiment of light cavalry) and was sent to Neuhof, near Strasbourg. While there he took private flying lessons and the following year was offered a transfer from the French Army to the French Air Force. He received his pilot's wings after being posted to the 37th Fighter Regiment in Casablanca, Morocco.
Manager for Cape Juby airfield in Tarfaya.
By 1926, Saint-Exupéry was flying again. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when aircraft had few instruments. Later he complained that those who flew the more advanced aircraft had become more like accountants than pilots. He worked for Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and then also became the airline stopover manager for the Cape Juby airfield in the Spanish zone of South Morocco, in the Sahara desert. His duties included negotiating the safe release of downed fliers taken hostage by hostile Moors, a perilous task which earned him his first Légion d'honneur from the French Government.
Toulouse - Rabat
On March 9, 1919, with the pilot Lemaître he crossed the distance from Toulouse to Rabat with stopover in Barcelona Alicante and Malaga. He brought Marshal Lyautey, who received him on the airfield, the newspaper "Le Temps" and a bunch of violets at the Marechale.
The success of the Line was such that it was borrowed by a King, two French Ministers, and a Marshal. She had heroic men as pilots: a Daurat who was a chief of exploitation, a Queen, a Mermoz, a Saint-Exupéry, a Guillaumet, and so many others... Some of whom paid with their lives for the regularity of the mail.
It was necessary to go further and cross the 2,800 kilometers which separated Casablanca from Dakar through the desert, the Rio de Oro and, in spite of the unsubstantiated tribes which in case of breakdown would seize the pilots and the loading of the apparatuses.
The Latécoère airlines continued until Dakar on May 5, 1923, and a regular postal service between Toulouse and Dakar operated from May 31, 1925
Tarfaya's association with Aéropostale began in 1927. The airmail carrier, based in Toulouse, France, was founded by French industrialist Pierre-Georges Latécoère, who envisioned an air route connecting France to its French colonies in Africa. Latécoère firmly believed in the future of aviation as a means of commercial transportation and communication between people.
The nearby Cape Juby airfield was an important refueling and stopover station for Aéropostale. Author-aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was named its station manager in 1927. There he remained for 18 months, on occasion negotiating with the rebellious Moorish tribes to release his imprisoned pilots, as he wrote in his first novel, Southern Mail.
On 28 September 2004 a museum opened in honour of the memory of Aéropostale, Saint-Exupéry and its pilots, supported notably by the city of Toulouse and French aircraft maker Airbus. The museum was inaugurated by renowned aviation journalist Bernard Chabbert, whose father was also part of Aéropostale's history.
In 1912 the territory of Tarfaya, then named Cape Juby, was occupied by Spain as part of the Spanish Sahara.
When Morocco became independent in 1956, it asked for the cession of Moroccan areas controlled by Spain. After some resistance and some fighting in 1957 during the Ifni War, Cape Juby was ceded to Morocco in 1958. The region is now also known as the Tarfaya Strip.