The Andes Mountains

Play / VR : Legendary Mode

It is a place that makes you dream.

No – it is a place that scares and that makes dream only those who have an extra grain of sand in the brain.

In short – excuse these personal considerations on the souls of those who have dreamed and still dream of the Andes.

But those, the dreamers and adventurers, those, as Altair likes the dreamers and adventurers, are also the public that Altair targets.

So we have to tell them stories of dreamers and adventurers.

Here is a story that both frightens and enchants at the same time.
It is a true story.
It would be unbelievable in film – it could have been.
But now that technology can allow us to push the game even further, it will be unforgettable on stage with Virtual Reality – Legendary mode, s’il vous plaît.

I have already talked about these men – they are among the great heroes in/of/for my imagination.
They are the pilots of the Aéropostale company, founded by the Latécoère companies.

After having succeeded in flying over the Pyrenees thanks to the updrafts, in spite of the planes that had a lower ceiling, the pilots undertook to fly to North Africa – but there again, those are other stories.

Once this was done, l’Aéropostale moved on to South America.
In 1928, l’Aéropostale was entrusted with transporting mail from Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires – that is, from one side of South America to the other.
Problem: the Andes on the way – and not the easiest part of the Andes.
The plane of the time, the Laté 25, reached a maximum altitude of 4500 meters.
And many summits culminate above 6000 meters – obviously, what a coincidence, it is in this imaginary line which connects Santiago to Buenos Aires that the most summits above 6000 meters are found.

In September Mermoz and Collenot left “to recognize a road”. Mermoz’s idea was simple: to follow the railroad track by air.

It works – they will make the round trip almost without hindrance.
The game is launched.

Mermoz and Collenot quickly find themselves called to several other missions, for several other “roads” through the Andes – why limit themselves to only one?
When they try to cross, further south, at the height of Concepción, their engine blocks – they land in catastrophe on a tiny platform. Two of them repair the engine – there is no runway? so what? the void will serve as a runway.

An hour later, they were safely in Santiago.
To go back to Buenos Aires, Mermoz decided to look for a passage further north.
He looked for a route between the Come Caballos and San Francisco passes – the most accessible pass was at 4500 meters – the maximum ceiling of his plane – on a slope of the Cerro Copiapo.
But, that day, the plane does not manage to exceed 4 200 meters.

Mermoz & Collenot – 1929 – from an illustration by Geo HAM 1901 1972 – Credit Collection Kharbine Tapabor

It doesn’t matter – Mermoz is experienced, he knows the climbs well.

He managed to jump the pass, once again using the updrafts. But the winds were too strong, and he was forced to fly down the opposite side. No way, no way, the winds were too strong, too strong, and despite the engine being at full throttle, nothing could be done: the plane was falling.

There was only one way out – Mermoz cut the engine and glided as best he could to land the plane on a snowy plateau at an altitude of 4,000 meters.
The plane was almost ruined – the impact was more than rough.
It was 16° Celsius below zero during the day – 26° Celsius below zero at night.
No food – the trip was not planned to be long.
The water pipes on the plane had burst due to the freezing.
They had duct tape, canvas strips and a kind of enamel – it is the cellulose acetate, used by the French to lighten the weight of their planes – to repair. Nothing more.

The empennage had been torn off by the impact against the rocks, the landing gear was collapsed on one side.
The snowy winds were blowing continuously.

They were caught – stuck.

So… some could have given up and waited for death – in such cold weather it seems to be quick and almost sweet.
Others would have gone mad with panic.

Mermoz and Collenot repaired as best they could.
They got back on the plane after three days and two nights of hard work – without thinking too much about the cold or the hunger.

Mermoz turned on the ignition. They launched the plane into the void, bumping hard on the uneven ground.
The plane literally plunged into the void. The word used was: sunk
In its fall the plane finally gained enough speed to respond to the controls.
Mermoz righted it against a ridge – hit the ridge. One time – two times – three times – Water was leaking from all the frost-cracked tubes, flooding them from all sides.
After 7 minutes of flight, the plane had broken down.
But below them, there was the Chilean plain.

the …path

Three days later, they returned to Santiago. And finally, crossing the Andes again, they brought the plane back to its starting point.
The legend of Mermoz the archangel was born.

Dare to tell me that this story is not brash?
Dare to tell me that we can “live” it with them without dying of cold and despair?
Dare to tell me that you can live it in virtual reality without experiencing the emotions of your life?

If you dare to tell me that, psss, I don’t love you anymore.
But I know you won’t tell me that.

Potez 25

How does the story end? The engineers succeeded in developing an airplane that had more range – the Potez 25. The mountain had been conquered.
It had given up its prey. It was the sea that was to kill the Archangel.

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Featured Image : illustration of the crossing of the Andes by Mermoz and Collenot

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