by Eleonora Pedron MONACO. In 1965, “La Caravelle de Monaco” was the first airplane to carry the Grimaldi coat of arms.
In the fifties’, the name of the Caravelle was quite famous in France. This iconic airplane was the flagship production of the Toulouse aeronautics and today we convey that this beautiful aircraft entered the legend despite the fact that she did not succeed in conquering the USA market. However, those visiting Aeroscopia Museum near Toulouse-France in this year 2017 can admire the white and slim fuselage stretched out of grey and blue stripes, the colours of Air Inter, the petal-shaped portholes, her back and high drifts.
She is the Caravelle, the last of the 280 specimens that have helped revive the French aeronautics industry, giving it new prestige, though not in terms of number of aircrafts. The name “Caravelle” embodied the spirit of conquest, borrowed from Christophe Colombo, and stated the intention of Sud Aviation-Toulouse to outbreak the American market. Unfortunately, the promotional tour that the Caravelle made sixty years ago, in 1957, landing in thirty USA airports, sold just twenty airplanes. The Caravelle will be beaten by the 2,400 US DC9 produced by McDonnel Douglas, an airplane who was almost a copy of the French one…
Failed to win the transatlantic market, just as the “Concorde” many years later, the Caravelle embodied the French dream of a fast, luxurious airplane, built to reach European capitals or distant islands. She prefigures the “shuttle” of today with differentiated costs, among which passengers could chose at their convenience the cheaper blue flight. The latest models were 3 meters longer to accommodate up to 139 passengers. The comfortable seats were orange, and black elastic nets retained the luggage racks. Regular passengers praised the comfort of this particularly silent aircraft, less than in the back, too close to the reactors. She was used regularly by businessmen and became the favourite aircraft of many famous people. Pope Pius XII was happy to rent her and go to Lourdes for the centenary of the apparitions, and Krusciov was impressed by her performance. When De Gaulle visited the Sud Aviation factories in Toulouse in 1959, in his speech he called her “the fast, silent and secure Caravelle.” As for the Grimaldi family, SAS prince Rainier III bought “La Caravelle of Monaco” in 1965.
Christened at the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport by the Bishop of Monaco in 1965, she immortalizes a small Carolina of Monaco landing at Orly with the her dolls, the beautiful Françoise Hardy with her first-class ticket and Serge Gainsbourg who embarked with his family and his bad habits: fifty years ago Gitanes cigarettes and whiskeys were admitted on board! And in 1985, we also see Roger Moore, personal friend of the Grimaldis, ready to climb the “Caravelle de Monaco” in Paris and reach the Principality.
After twenty years of glorious service, in that same year “La Caravelle of Monaco” is put on sale, as SAS prince Rainier III has decided to purchase a Dassault Falcon 20, which will be replaced in 2002 by a Dassault Falcon 2000. After the succession on the throne in 2005, and the purchase of a Falcon 900 EX, only in 2013 SAS prince Albert II buys his dream plane, a Dassault Falcon 7X, estimated at between 35 and 40 million euros. A “must” bought at the height of the global economic crisis … evidently the Prince, who the Almanac Gotha fits among the 15 richest sovereigns in the world, can afford this luxury!
Actually, the Prince is using this plane for his official and private trips. In fact, according to the Palais, Albert does “a dozen official flights a year” and “different trips” of a private nature or linked to its function every month. The airplane, decorated with sober and elegant taste by Princess Charlene, has fourteen seats, two couches in the back, dark wood and cream colours for interior decoration, and an ultra-tech kitchen. The 23-meter tri-reactor has autonomy of 11,000 km, allowing for example a Paris-Tokyo connection.
Since the sovereign is a fervent defender of the planet, his approach is at the forefront of the latest environmental standards; Nice airport will be “carbon-neutral by 2018”, a goal that the entire Principality of Monaco intends to pursue by 2030/2050. According to the requirements signed by Albert II in 2005, a sum is set annually for the emissions of greenhouse gas generated by his air travels, which are offset by the purchase of credits. Parked in a new 2,000-meter metal-grey hangar, the Falcon with the Grimaldi Coat of Arms is subjected to the Monegasque police guard for the interior of the building and to the French gendarmerie for the outer, as well as for the rest of the airport. The Falcon’s passengers are subject to the airport guidelines; they have to come to the French authorities for their identity and for the luggage check-in, just as it happened at the times of the “Caravelle de Monaco”.