Did you know that the world’s second smallest country played a significant role in the European aviation?

 December 5, 2018

1913 - Aviation in Monaco | © Courtesy of Monte-Carlo SBM via SignatureDishesOfMonaco.com


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One can say that the Principality is full of mysteries and legends that can be true. Living in our era it is difficult to imagine that the tiny country of Monaco was one of the main pioneers of aviation in Europe.

A country without any airport, and not even the possibility to make a runway, led the European aviation scene in many ways, and held the most innovative aviation shows where inventors could try to present and share their latest airplanes.

Everything started with Prince Albert I of Monaco back in 1908 when the French municipal leader Camille Blanc suggested to the ruling Prince to organize a major flying competition in the Principality of Monaco.

1910 – Aviation in Monaco | © Courtesy of Monte-Carlo SBM via SignatureDishesOfMonaco.com

Blanc had multiple interests in the Principality of Monaco and he was for many years President of the Société-des-Bains-de-Mer, of Monte-Carlo, and took a leading part in the administration of the Monte-Carlo Casino.

As a founding mayor of the French city of Beausoleil (1904 to 1925) which lies just on the border of the Principality, Blanc had multiple times suggested to improve the scene of Monaco until he became Persona non grata in Monaco.

In 1911, Henri Fabre the French aviator and the inventor of the first successful seaplane, flew over the Port of Monaco in his seaplane, the Fabre Hydravion. Fabre’s success inspired the whole aviation world, which later made transatlantic flights possible.

That day in Port Hercule, spectators flocked to the Casino terraces to watch this never seen before display, before his plane unfortunately crashed onto the rocks.

Later in 1914, Monaco was the arrival point for the first air rally, inspired by the infamous automobile rallies of the time. The Monaco Air Rally was hosted by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco and it had 25 contestants. The legendary aviator Roland Garros won the 25,000-franc prize money.

1920 – Aviation in Monaco | © Courtesy of Monte-Carlo SBM via SignatureDishesOfMonaco.com

In 1921 Monaco held its last flying competition. Under the new reign of Louis II, the Prince of Monaco who ruled from 1922, the activity was abandoned, officially due to the lack of space to accommodate the ever-growing crowds of spectators.

Although Monaco was proud to have played an important part in aviation history for a decade, Camille Blanc who originally suggested for the Principality of Monaco to take part in the aviation scene become persona non grata in Monaco’s official circles. His relationship with Louis II, Prince of Monaco suffered a setback and Blanc moved back to France.

Termination of Blanc’s position at the Monte-Carlo Casino led him to suffer severely from paralysis, derived mainly from the reported stresses of his experience of dealing with the Monaco authorities. Blanc died in 1927.

Seemingly Monaco’s attention and ambitions towards the aviation sector died for a few decades until the current ruling Prince, Prince Albert II of Monaco introduced his ambitions plans for building a green and sustainable environment for the Principality. Part of his plans was the Solar Impulse 2 project.

Solar Impulse 2 flying over Hawaii during maintenance flight – 27.03.2016 © Solar Impulse | Revillard via Signature Dishes Of Monaco

The Solar Impulse project was originated in Switzerland by the balloonist Bertrand Piccard with the main aim to create a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power and bring attention to clean technologies. An aircraft powered only by the sun, with no fuel or polluting emissions.

To support the approximately 200 million euro aviation project, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation established a Monaco based mission control centre for the circumnavigation of the Solar Impulse 2. The new control centre was using satellite links to gather real-time flight telemetry and remain in constant contact with the aircraft and the support team.

‘This historic circumnavigation using only solar energy will be a dream come true. The flight will demonstrate that science can change the world.’ – said Prince Albert II of Monaco, keeping alive the aviation heritage of the Principality.

These ambitions are also there to prove that the spirit for innovation never left the heart of Monaco, especially when it comes to the combination with protecting the environment.

Discover more super interesting facts in the Monaco: The Essential Relocation Guide.


Monaco: The Essential Relocation Guide

Monaco is the undisputed home of the rich and famous and attracts residents from all around the world due to the exceptional lifestyle, safety and multiple benefits available for the entire family.

Monaco: The Essential Relocation Guide

In this book, contributing authors André C Perry, Charlotte Easterbrook and Zsolt Szemerszky have compiled the most important and vital information required to help guide you through the process of relocating to the Principality of Monaco. Being independent experts, they also spiced up the chapters with their personal knowledge on the relocation process to create this in-depth and essential relocation guide.

The book is available in English and consists of 268 pages.

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