May 23, 2022

Marc Pourpe, the aviator of the Orient

Admittedly, Marc Poupe is less well known than a Garros or a Védrines. But, of all these women and all these men who discovered ” on the job »The world of the air, by giving its letters of nobility to aviation, sometimes at the risk of their lives, all without exception deserve that we remember them, and that we pay tribute to their courage , their ardor, or even their unconsciousness! Without them, both famous and obscure, we wouldn’t be where we are today …

So, of course, the name of Marc Pourpe is not one of the most famous of this glorious pantheon of pioneers, but there are many others like him who keep watch in the shadows! What about Audemars, Balsan, Brindejonc-des-Moulinais, Dubonnet, Gilbert, Paulhan and so on, in the midst of hundreds of others, all deserving?

An erratic trajectory

Rather puny and withdrawn, the young Marc Pourpe had a difficult childhood, with separated parents and a mother who acquired under the name of Liane de Pougy a potentially sulphurous celebrity, who hardly lavished on him maternal affection. ” Demi-socialite »As they said then, brilliant on the boards as in the alcoves, this character was more attracted by the social elevator – which she knew perfectly how to use – than by her son. Which, therefore, did what he could to build himself.

One of the first raids of the nascent aviation, in early 1914, the link between Cairo and Khartoum. The pilot made the cover of a Belle-Époque magazine. © coll. J. Molveau

Wanting to exist by himself, the young man ends up realizing that the aviators of the Belle-Époque are famous, and that they earn their living, sometimes very well, by performing in front of conquered crowds … All the same at good school considering the actions of his mother, he does not hesitate to practice the bluff to embark (not without many setbacks) in an aeronautical career in which he will spare no effort to ” drill ».

In other latitudes …

It will therefore start in Australia. Like an incredible first chapter of his life. He will then experience an ephemeral beginning of fame with a return trip across the Channel, but it is in Indochina that he will reveal his full potential, being the first to reveal the wings of the French colonial power in Southeast Asia. . He then ran along the Nile, from the Pyramids to Karthoum, in Sudan, with the Morane-Saulnier from the Mediterranean crossing bought at Roland Garros.

He wanted to connect Paris to Saigon by air when World War I broke out. This one did not allow him to shine, he died as a simple pilot soldier, in the fog of the beginning of December 1914 … In this man, tenacity rubbed shoulders with fragility.

Marc Poupe, the aviator of the Orient, by Thierry Le Roy, Bretagne-Aviation Éditions. 210 pages. 16 x 24 cm. Prix : 20 €. ISBN : 978-2-9578400-0-7.

It is therefore the biography of a real character (his lifelong mechanic, who became a pilot left a stronger mark in history, since it is Raoul Lufbery), although a little pathetic, that the book academic Thierry Le Roy in this 210-page book in 16 x 24 format.

Very little had been written about Marc Pourpe, who until then contented himself with a hagiography by Jacques Mortane (who was his friend) published in 1937 and a chapter in the Belle-Époque of the pioneers of Port-Aviation released in 2009. This comprehensive, documented and well-written volume pays a justified tribute to this heroic figure of times who has remained unjustly overlooked.

Jean Molveau