This weekend, with my work colleague Thomas and other 7 airplanes of our Aviation Society, we made a day-long flight excursion to Biscarrosse (~60km South West of Bordeaux), in order to visit its Seaplane museum (Musée de l’Hydraviation).
We took the opportunity of the excursion to overfly other interesting landmarks such as the water slope of Montech, the pont-canal of Moissac, the Dune of Pilat and Cap Ferret by the bay of Arcachon.
I will be short in words in this post, thus I will first show here below some of the beautiful pictures of the flight (most taken by Thomas), and at the bottom I will include a few paragraphs with the technical information of the flight in case anyone is interested in planning a similar trip, and then I will briefly comment the museum.
We made two flights. The first one from Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL) to Biscarrosse Parentis (LFBS) lasted 2h05′ including the excursion to the seaside to overfly the Dune of Pilat and Cap Ferret, a detour of ~20′. The return trip took us 1h48′. Both trips could take somewhat less time if the routes were a bit more direct. We started both flights with the fuel tank full (in theory up to 109l of usable fuel) and after each flight we did refills of ~55 and 43 litres; that would mean a fuel consumption per trip of ~26.4l per hour and 23.9l per hour.
For the first flight we filed a flight plan (calling the BRIA of Bordeaux) even if not required in France (when not flying to the islands or abroad), but that eased the flying through different flight spaces, getting flight information service, traffic information, etc.
Flying around the Dune of Pilat and Arcachon bay was quite busy. We flew in the area at an altitude of ~2,500ft and below us, at around 1,000ft, we saw quite a few airplanes flying by, not all in the same radio frequency. Thus, in days of good weather that is something to watch out.
Biscarrosse-Parentis airport was also rather busy, with airplanes, ULMs, autogyros, helicopters and gliders… and seaplanes, some of them departing from the water but others from the paved runway, making use of small wheels installed in their floats. Luckily all the restricted airspace areas in the immediate surroundings of the airport were not active that day, otherwise it would have been trickier to approach the airport and be forced to fly at lower altitude.
The museum is at the other side of the village, not at walking distance. We were taken there by car by the director of the airport and his partner, thanks to their acquaintance with some of our society pilots; that helped a lot with the logistics, otherwise we would have taken taxis. There is a restaurant by the airport and another one by the museum, though we organized a picnic this time.
Musée de l’Hydraviation
At the beginning of the XX century Pierre-Georges Latécoère chose Biscarrosse to set up a seaplane assembly factory with parts coming from Toulouse. Latécoère seaplanes were among the largest French seaplanes produced (Latécoère 631) and from Biscarrosse Les Hourtiquets flying boat base departed air liners piloted by pioneers like Mermoz, Guillaumet or Saint-Exupery. Those were the days when Biscarrosse was destined to be one of the main hubs in aviation until the second world war came and aviation developed in a different path.
To celebrate those days we have this small museum and a bi-annual encounter of seaplanes that takes place in Biscarrosse.
The museum takes less than 1h30′ to visit and it is mainly composed of models of the seaplanes of the early days (including the first attempts by Fabre and Curtis), the development and growth of Latécoère’s business, Boeing Clippers, the luxury of seaplane travel in those days, the role of seaplanes in the war, the dream that led to the single flight of the Hugues H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose, and today’s use of seaplanes in firefighting operations.