The early origins
Before settling in Vinon in 1963, the Club has moved aroung the whole region for about 35 years. Its first origins can be traced in Saint Victoret, only two kilometres away from the runways of Marignane Airport.
In 1912, a manufacturer from Marseilles, M. JEANSOULIN, created a flying school at “Pas des Lanciers”, near Marseilles. A number of famous pilots have been seen there, including J. Védrines and R. Garros.
The year 1930 saw the beginning of the soaring activity, as it was done at the same time in Vauville, Combegrasse, Biskra, Nice and Sens. The French glider pilots actually copied the German pattern. Flights exceeding eight hours in duration were performed in Vauville and Biskra. The altitude of 1000 meters was topped.
At “Pas des Lanciers”, flights were successfully made using Avia XV as two seat trainer and Avia XIa as single seat gliders.
In 1934, a replica of the “Marseillais” winch was operated for the fist launches in Saint Auban.
As testified by F. MONTLEAU’s logbook, you could go solo after about thirty flights, each one lasting from one to two minutes. The instructors were PIEFFER and SARDOU.
The latter was to build a Castel 30P for his own personal use while M. GABELIER built a median-wing version of this glider.
The Club will bear the name of “Association Provençale de Vol à Voile”. But, being too close to Marignane, which was becoming a major airport, together with its seaplane base, the “guys from Marseilles” will have soon to move away. They will reclaim and clear the stones off the top of the Etoile Mountain, but only for a few launch attempts.
The photograph of J. DENGEVAL, near a XIa, in golf trousers and hat, show what was this gliding site.
They will leave for Aix-les-Milles in 1946 and become “Aero-Club de Marseille”.
The names of S. CAZILHAC and L. ABEILLE appear in the Aviasport magazine, in the “Coupe Bréguet” rankings. The “Coupe Bréguet” was to become “Federal Cup” in the Sixties.
After being closed to traffic by the aeronautical authorities, following B. DAUVIN’s lethal accident in 1954, (the pilot fell asleep after being for 54 hours airborne in an attempt to break the world’s duration record ) the airfield of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence re-opens.
The “guys from Marseilles” move then to the Alpilles, joining there a few former pilots of the “Duration flights” age.
In 1963, they move to Vinon for a summer camp, flying together with the military staff from Salon-de-Provence Air Force Base.
There were only two hangars on the field: one belonging to J.-M. BEYNET and a “half-tube” hangar.
This short period of August 1963 induced them to settle in Vinon for good. They soon built the first half of a hangar, and then the second half ( this building is now called “hangar début” ) to give their fleet a suitable shelter. It was the birth of the “Association Aéronautique Verdon-Alpilles” with Marcel MARCY as first Chairman, helped by his wife Maguy.