Making of - France Coastline

First leg
April 16th 2003, 6.45 pm : Departure from Toussus-le-Noble (Airport, 30 kilometres west of Paris), starting point of the first leg of our trip.
8.10 pm : Landing at Calais.


April 17th 2003, 8.25 am : Take-off from Calais to the Belgium border, and beginning of the shooting. The sun is to the east and we have good weather conditions to make the first part of the trip. When we arrive at Le Cap Gris Nez, we stop the photo shoot and fly straight to Le Tréport. We benefit from favourable light conditions until we reach Le Havre. During another leg, we will be back to photograph to west side of the North of France.

9.55 am : Landing at Le Havre, in order to empty the notebook's hard disk. (573 photos)
11.15 am : Departure from Le Havre to the Cotentin region. As the exposure of the Normandy Bridge to the sun is not satisfactory, we resume the photo shoot from Honfleur. The sun is at its zenith on our way up to the north, but we have to hurry up not to be against the light.
12.25 am : Arrival at Cherbourg without flying over the city as well as its military area.
We have lunch while clearing the notebook (612 photos) and recharging the batteries for the D1X.
As overflying Cherbourg and La Hague is forbidden, the pilot suggests a full stop at Guernsey for a few photographs and refuelling (35 % cheaper than in France).
2.40 pm : Take-off without forgetting to fill in the flight plan.
3.20 pm : We make some snapshots round the island before we land at Guernsey.
4.40 pm : Departure from Guernsey. We have to go back to Cherbourg for possible customs checks (it is the rule even though we are in Europe...).
5.20 pm : Arrival at Cherbourg. We wait 10 minutes to conform, but apparently the Customs are not interested in our plane.
5.40 pm : Second take-off from Cherbourg. Now the sun is to the west and on our way down along the Cotentin region. We resume photographing from Flamanville (south of La Hague). When we get to Le Mont Saint-Michel, the sea is out.
6.50 pm : Landing at Dinan. Totals : 6 hours and 35 minutes of flight, 716 photos.


April 18th 2003, 9.20 am : Take-off when the morning mist has dispelled. We go back to the Mont Saint-Michel Bay. This time, at high water, we can only see the road that connects the Mont to the continent. We will therefore have photos showing the tide level there.
At Le Cap Fréhel, the weather conditions are deteriorating : the sea mist does not lift and the light conditions are inadequate, with halos. We decide on a full stop at Saint-Brieuc and to keep waiting.
10.25 am : Arrival at Saint-Brieuc. We transfer the data files (359 photos), at the clubhouse.
11.20 am : Take-off to the isle of Ouessant. We will have to get back there, because of the bad conditions... We first go round Ouessant, then we fly along the Finistère Cape (it is forbidden to overfly the Crozon Peninsula), and resume taking pictures at Douarnenez. The conditions are better when we pass by l'Île de Sein, and the sun is again set in the sky as required.
1.45 pm : Landing at Quimper. We have lunch, recharge the batteries and deal with file maintenance (1207 photos).
4.00 pm : We leave Quimper to Saint-Nazaire, going round the isle of Groix, Quiberon and Belle-Île. The sun is high, and the conditions are OK, with a light mist.
5.45 pm : Full stop at Saint-Nazaire : during the short base leg, we take some pictures of the Queen Mary 2 under construction. At the clubhouse, we transfer the files (1107 photos).
6.30 pm : Departure from Saint-Nazaire back to Paris, flying along the river Loire (659 photos)
8.50 pm : Arrival at Toussus-le-Noble at nightfall.
Totals for the first stage : 14 hours and 10 minutes of flight, 5233 photos.



Second leg
May 28th 2003 : Because of the traffic jam during the Ascension Day week-end, we arrive too late at Toussus-le-Noble, and have to change plans. Instead of flying from there to La Baule, then taking photos until La Rochelle, we go to Lannion in order to photograph the North of Brittany again, the next morning.
5.00 pm : Take-off to Lannion. It will take less time to reach the place than to drive the 30 kilometres from Paris to Toussus-le-Noble...
18 h 50 : 6.50 am : Arrival at Lannion. The sun is shining... as usual!
Totals : 16 hours of flight. We took no additional pictures (5233 photos)



May 29th 2003 : There is no point in taking off early due to an overcast sky. The Breton leg of the trip is actually useless : when the stratus and mist are dispelled with the heat, it will be too late because we will be facing the sun.
9.40 am : Take-off to Saint-Brieuc only to find that the weather conditions are worse to the east. We therefore turn back and proceed direct to La Baule, to resume our Tour de France where we stopped it.
10.50 am : Arrival at La Baule. We have lunch.
1.30 pm : We arrive safely at La Rochelle, after a flight round the Isle of Yeu and the Isle of Ré. An engine starter failure after refuelling stops us... right in front of a maintenance service area specialised in Mooney aircraft. We will get our plane repaired for the next day, late in the morning.
Totals : 19 hours and 20 minutes of flight, 6703 photos.


May 30th 2003, 1.50 pm : We leave La Rochelle to Soulac (at the south of the mouth of the river La Gironde).
3.20 pm : Arrival at Soulac aerodrome, then there is our "computer ritual" (723 photos). We take our time so that the sun may be to the west and favourable on our way towards Spain.
4.30 pm : Take-off from Soulac. We resume photographing. But a few moments later, we discover that clouds coming from the Atlantic Ocean are moving far quicker than expected. The coastline is completely shrouded in a thick mass of clouds. It is a sea fog coming with a moist airflow which we cannot avoid. Just to make sure we proceed to the Arcachon Basin. We cannot see the ocean under the stratus any more, but it is perfectly clear inside the basin so as to take photos. From above, The Pyla Dune looks like the Mont-Blanc Mountain trapped in the clouds. It is then useless to go ahead to the south. We re-route to Perpignan : one must know how to adapt to circumstances... (534 photos)
7.05 pm : Arrival at Perpignan, after a wonderful long final along the Pyrenees...
Totals : 23 hours and 25 minutes of flight, 7960 photos.


May 31st 2003, 9.30 am : Take off from Perpignan. We reach the Spanish borderline and start photographing despite a light layer of mist and stratus, which is going to be a nuisance for 30 kilometres. The light is brighter than over the Atlantic coast and the mist remains. Here is an anecdote : when crossing two acrobatic aircraft around the Camargue region, one of them just puts its smoke-producer on... We are not allowed by the air traffic control to approach Marseilles and flying over the naval dockyards in Toulon is forbidden.
12.05 am : Landing at Cuers (north-est of Marseilles). We transfer the data files as we are having lunch at the aeroclub restaurant (1333 photos)
2.35 pm : Departure towards the Italian border, then heading to Corsica. The flight plan is filled in and the life jackets are on board. We are not permitted to enter all the Bays (Hyères, Cannes and Nice). We must follow special routes along the coast over identified points, to comply with the rules initiated for congested air traffic. On the contrary, there are no restrictions around Saint-Tropez, and the control tower gives us permission to approach close to the Monaco circuit at a reasonable distance, whereas the qualifying session for the Formula 1 Grand Prix is taking place.
Thanks to an understanding controller, we can join Corsica without going back Saint-Tropez. The arrival at the Corsica Cape is splendid, but we immediately set at work again to photograph what will remain our best visual memory, namely the west side of Corsica. The conditions are fine.
5.30 pm : Landing at Ajaccio. The hard disk is full. (1445 photos).
6.30 pm : Take-off to the south of Corsica, then return to Propriano for the night (414 photos).
7.20 pm : Landing at the aerodrome
Totals : 29 hours and 55 minutes of flight , 11152 photos


June 1st 2003, 10.35 am : We leave Propriano. We still have to take pictures of the east side of the island. (919 photos) The conditions remain perfect : lucky Corsicans!
We have an easy flight to the continent, and we have to get back to Paris. The photo shoot is over. But aeronautics is not as simple, and there are storms across the way. We consequently divert our route to Avignon, so that we may refuel and have something to eat.
2.00 pm : Landing at the airport.
3.00 pm : Departure from Avignon. We try the quickest way through Le Massif Central. But the storms are still there, and the pilot decides to come back along the Rhône Valley.
5.30 : We are back to Toussus-le-Noble.
Totals: 36 hours and 10 minutes of flight, 12071 photos



Third leg
July, 7th 2003, 5.00 pm. We begin the third leg of the trip. We take off from Toussus-le-Noble to Calais, in order to photograph the west side of the North of France. The weather conditions are wonderful, and we decide to continue the photo shoot until we reach Ouistreham. Some photos are therefore taken twice, but with different light conditions. Then we fly to Brittany. (1195 photos)
8.45 pm : Landing at Saint-Brieuc.
Totals : 39 hours and 55 minutes of flight, 13266 photos


July, 8th 2003, 8.55 am : We take off and start photographing at La Latte Fort, situated at the west of Saint-Malo. The conditions are OK, but the sea is out. We go to the isle of Ouessant, where we stop the photo session.
12.05 pm : Landing at Quimper, where we have lunch and transfer data files (1248 photos)
2.45 pm : Take-off to Biarritz. The photo shoot will start at Soulac, hoping we will forget our disappointment with the sea fog last time. Once at Soulac, the military authorities do not agree with the clearance to fly along the ocean. We are stopped by the dangerous zones in Les Landes, where military aircraft and weapons are tested. Then, it will be necessary to come back a third time to the Gironde region. We have to pass round the coast area, to reach the ocean again from Mimizan onwards. The photo shoot begins there and ends in Spain. (360 photos)
5.55 pm : Landing at Biarritz to refuel.
6.30 pm : Take-off to Paris.
9.30 pm : Arrival at Toussus-le-Noble.
Total : 49 hours and 10 minutes of flight, 14874 photos



Fourth leg
The fourth and last leg of our trip will start from Laval, where the plane is being overhauled.
August 2nd 2003, 2.45 pm : Take-off from Laval to Soulac. This time everything goes fine : the conditions are OK, and we photograph the coastline on to Biarritz. (1341 photos)
5.40 pm : Landing at Biarritz.
6.10 pm Departure to Paris.
8.45 : Arrival at Toussus-le-Noble.
Totals : 54 hours and 40 minutes of flight, 16215 photos.




August 8th 2003 : Birth of francecoastline.com.


Photos : Pascal Le FICHANT - Pilotes : Jean-Philippe CHARLANNES - Pascal TALGUEN - Franck URGON - Média : Nathalie PORCHER - Design : Stéphane CHAILLON - Olivier AUJOULAT

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