The Monaco air rallye

Romano Bini

This event was organized by the Sporting Club of Monaco. In addition to being a sporting competition, the rallye aimed to study the possibility of establishing rapid connections between the Principality and the most important European cities.

The regulation provided for the departure of planes from seven cities: Brussels, Gotha, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Vienna, and to reach Munich as quickly as possible,

The distances to be covered between the various cities and Monaco had been set at about 1,300 kilometers, to be exact 1,293, of which 200 to be traveled by the sea,

All the departure cities were not at equal distances from Munich, therefore the itineraries were adjusted accordingly.

The pilots could choose from seven routes:

  1. Paris (Buc) – Angers – Bordeaux – Marseille – Monaco;
  2. London (Hendon) – Calais – Dijon – Marseille – Monaco;
  3. Brussels (Berchen S.Agata) – Calais – Dijon – Marseille – Monaco;
  4. Gotha – Frankfurt – Dijon – Marseille – Munich;
  5. Madrid (Quatro Vientas) – Victory – Bordeaux – Marseille – Monaco;
  6. Milan (Taliedo) – Padua – Rome – Genoa – Munich;
  7. Vienna (Aspern) – Budapest – Padua – Genoa – Munich.

For the last stretch of the route, which was to be completed on the sea, the aircraft had to equip themselves with floats in Marseille or Genoa.

The chosen route could also be completed in the other direction, but landing outside the planned stopovers would have resulted in the elimination of the competitor. Furthermore, the number of attempts that each competitor could make was unlimited, as long as they took place between 1 and 15 April 1914.

Of the 27 registers entered, 12 took off, but only four competitors managed to complete one or more of the planned routes. These four aviators were:

  • Roland Garros
  • Brindejonc des Moulinais
  • Maurice Renaux
  • Verrier

The first two both employed a Morane Saulnier monoplane, while Renaux and Verrier a Henri Farman biplane.

Path no. 1 was carried out three times. Two in the Paris-Monaco direction by Renoux and Verrier and once in the opposite direction by Roland Garros. The path n. 3 was performed twice by Roland Garros. The path n. 5 was performed only once by Brindejonc des Moulinais.

It should be remembered that two flights were not approved, namely that of Brindejonc which attempted route no. 6, departing from Munich, but suddenly stopped not far from Padua and that of Mailand which, aboard a Nieuport monoplane, began the route n. 1, but stopped at Albi, a town on the Bordeaux-Marseille section.

In addition, there were several attempts that failed, among these we should mention those of:

  • Moineax, which with a Bréguet biplane, started the route n. 1, but just in Tamaris, a town between Marseille and Monaco, stopped and moored at a buoy;
  • H. Hirth, which with an Albatros biplane, started the route n. 4, but when he reached Tamaris he stopped, as a fishing line got tangled in the apparatus;
  • Von Stoeffler, which with an Aviantik biplane, started the route n. 4, but having reached Villeneuve-les Avignon, a town between Dijon and Marseilles, he stopped for trouble;
  • Molla made the route n. 1 to Marmande, between Bordeaux and Marseille;
  • Verrier, on April 12, he tried again the route n. 1, but suffered an accident that forced him to stop in Pezenas, between Bordeaux and Marseille.

Finally, Brindejonc, after having completed the route n. 6, in the Munich-Milan sense, which however was not approved, tried to return to Munich, but was forced to abandon it in Genoa. Not satisfied, he attempted route no. 7 in the Munich-Vienna direction, but due to technical problems shortly after take-off, he attempted to return to Munich, but during the landing he had an accident. The plane was damaged, but luckily the pilot got out unharmed.

It should be noted that no one attempted to complete the route n. 7 Vienna-Munich and it should also be noted that all the participants mentioned were French, with the exception of two of German nationality: Von Stoeffler and Hirth.

The rally was won by the French Roland Garros for the flight of 13 April Munich-Paris, completed in 12h 14m 21s; the second prize was also awarded to Garros, for the flight of 14/15 April, Brussels-Munich, completed in 12h 27m 18s; the third prize went to Brindejonc des Moulinais, for the flight of 2/3 April, Madrid-Munich, made in 16h 02s 21s; the fourth prize to Maurice Renaux, for the flight of 14/15 April, Paris-Monaco, completed in 53h 58m 43s; the fifth prize in Verrier, for the flight carried out from 12 to 15 April, Paris-Munich, in 63h 1mio5m 46s and finally the sixth prize, again at Roland Garros, for the flight carried out from 2 to 12 April, Brussels-Munich, in 24h 45m 46s.

The Organizing Committee prepared both a special dark blue postcard and a red vignette, with no indication of the value. Both depict a seaplane in flight: in the first over the bay of Monaco and in the second above the sea, the latter also bears the words “Monaco 1914” at the top and “Rallye Aérien” at the bottom.

In each of the seven cities of departure, a thousand postcards were loaded onto the participating aircraft, stamped with only the sticker, stamped with a circular rubber cachet, violet, with the inscription “Rallye Aérien / Avril 1914 / name of the city of departure”. Both postcards transported by air and those forwarded by surface received the same circular cachet on arrival but with the word “Monaco” instead of the name of the city of departure. It should be remembered that the same postcards with the stamped vignette exist in Rome, despite the fact that this city was only one stop on route no. 6 and that the distance between Rome and Munich did not reach the 1,300 kilometers prescribed by the regulation.

Some of these postcards were later franked and sent from Munich to private individuals and reached the recipients via the normal postal routes. The proceeds from the sale of these postcards went to cover, at least in part, the organization expenses.

This is the version provided about the air transport of these postcards which, however, not being official, but organized by private individuals, their authenticity has to be proven. I have serious doubts that things really went like this.

Perhaps because it was an unofficial air transport, or because those actually flown are very few, even today, at more than eighty years [the article dates back to 1997], they do not collect the interest that they deserve, if only under the historical profile. Let’s not forget that we were in full pioneering times and even if 1,300 kilometers were completed in stages, there were always a lot of them, and therefore it was a question of putting both the drivers and the machines to the test. This is confirmed by the fact that out of seven itineraries, only three were completed and some not even started.

Figure 3: Souvenir postcard of the 50th anniversary of the Monaco Rallye