BLACK SHEEP’S DEN – L’ANTRE DES TÊTES BRÛLÉES

There are some really nice aviator pubs and restaurants throughout the world, in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, New-York, in London, Farnborough, Gloucestershire, Paris, Le Bourget. Some only bear the name ‘aviator’ or another one relating to aviation.

AVIATORS BAR
Bar LES TETES BRULEES, 20 Rue Verdière, La Rochelle

While strolling down a street during the summer holidays, I stumbled upon a bar totally dedicated to pilots and aircraft in La Rochelle, France last summer. It was a bit busy on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I saw this sign « LES TÊTES BRÛLÉES » and a shield over the street corner on which I could make out a black sheep. Just above was an inverted-gull-shaped aircraft outline. The picture of a bull terrier on the awning could ring a bell too. This one wore sunglasses – there must be some fun in there, I mused. « Might it be Pappy Boyington’s den? » I wondered.

Some customers let us in and we were standing engrossed with the aviation world as if it were a dream. Flight suits and flight uniforms were hanging over tables. The bar – where laughter, grins and giggles are the norm – was surrounded with badges, aviation artifacts, aircraft and pilots photos up on the walls. There were aircraft models in a showcase, and several of them hanging all over the place. Some souvenirs were dedicated to naval aviation. It looked like a small – though dense – aviation hall of fame. There was a black sign above the bar featuring a short text in white letters, which said:

IN   WORLD   WAR  II ,

MARINE   CORPS   MAJOR

GREG   « PAPPY »   BOYINGTON

COMMANDED   A   SQUADRON

OF   FIGHTER   PILOTS ,   THEY

WERE   A   COLLECTION   OF

MISFITS   AND  SCREWBALLS

WHO   BECAME   THE   TERRORS

OF   THE   SOUTH   PACIFIC .

THEY   WERE   KNOWN   AS   THE

BLACK   SHEEP .

Sure, it rings a bell! This is the introductory text to the famous series « Baa Baa Black Sheep » about the brave VMA-214 pilots who operated from the Solomon Islands during the WW2, in the Pacific War. I could have heard the theme song from « The Whiffenpoof Song » turned into a drunk-voice, exhausted-though-happy chorus:

WE ARE POOR LITTLE LAMBS,

WHO HAVE LOST OUR WAY.

BAA! BAA! BAA!

Click off and listen:

AVIATORS PUBThe black sheep shield outside, the F4U Corsairs inside and this sign you cannot miss when you enter the pub make you breathe aviation history. Everything, even the lavatory walls covered with aviation slang graffiti, are very well in unison with the local atmosphere. Each conversation is focused on flying, pilots, aircraft, and of course fun!

There is a sort of an alcove in the back room made up of genuine airplane seats, artifacts, stickers and photos. You can even drink aviation. Even though Les Têtes Brûlées is not a POL depot you can be served a Kerosene, a great cocktail always served with a grin from the waiters. Jérôme, the boss, seem to be widely known in the aviation community, far beyond La Rochelle. Whoever they are. Pilots, flight attendants, crew members, engineers, aerospace lovers, they all know the Black Sheep’s den. Aviation geeks, this is a place where you have got to go for you can expect a nice welcome.

Click HERE to go to « Bar Les Têtes Brûlées »

Why Vought F4U Corsair « WHISTLING DEATH »?

EN FRANÇAIS:

Il y a dans le monde un bon nombre de bars et restaurants consacrés à l’aviation et quelquefois à l’aérospatiale: en Alabama, Géorgie, Caroline du Nord, New-York, à Londres, Farnborough, dans le Gloucestershire, à Paris, Le Bourget. Il y en a qui ne portent que le nom « aviateur » ou d’autres qui rappellent l’aviation ou l’espace.

Alors que je flânais dans une rue pendant les vacances d’été à la Rochelle, je suis tombé tout à fait par hasard sur un bar entièrement dédié aux pilotes et aux avions. C’était assez animé en ce samedi après-midi ensoleillé lorsque je vis l’enseigne « LES TÊTES BRÛLÉES » surplombant le coin de la rue, sur laquelle on pouvait distinguer un mouton noir.  Juste au dessus, la silhouette d’un avion aux ailes en W. L’image d’un chien bull-terrier sur l’auvent en terrasse me rappelait déjà quelque chose… Ce chien portait des lunettes de soleil – on doit bien s’amuser là dedans, songeai-je. Et voici ce que je me demandais soudain: « Se pourrait-il que cette échoppe soit une des antres de Pappy Boyington? »

Des clients devant le bar nous firent entrer et nous sommes restés un moment debouts, captivés par cet univers de l’aviation, comme si c’était en rêve. Des combinaisons de vol et uniformes de personnels navigants étaient suspendus au-dessus des tables. Le bar, où fou-rires, sourires et ricanements semblent de rigueur, était décorés d’insignes, de pièces de collection d’aviation, de photos d’avions et de pilotes qui tapissaient les murs. Il y avait des maquettes d’avion dans une vitrine, et plusieurs qui pendaient un peu partout. Des souvenirs évoquaient l’Aéronavale. Cela ressemblait à un petit, quoique dense, temple de l’aviation. Pour l’accueil, au dessus du bar est affiché un panneau noir rappelant une célèbre séries TV américaine en lettres capitales blanches, traduites de l’anglais:

PENDANT LA DEUXIEME GUERRE MONDIALE,

LE COMMANDANT DES MARINES

GREG « PAPPY » BOYINGTON ÉTAIT

À LA TÊTE D’UNE ESCADRILLE

DE PILOTES DE CHASSE. CELLE-CI

ÉTAIT COMPOSÉE DE MARGINAUX

ET D’AVENTURIERS QUI DEVINRENT

LES TERREURS DU PACIFIQUE SUD

ON LES CONNAISSAIT SOUS LE NOM

DE « BLACK SHEEP » (MOUTON(S) NOIR(S))

Bien sûr que cela vous dit quelque chose! Il s’agit du générique de la célèbre série « Les Têtes Brûlées » qui retraçait la saga des courageux pilotes de chasse de l’escadron VMA-214 qui opéraient depuis les Îles Salomon pendant la seconde guerre mondiale. J’aurais pu même entendre la mélodie tirée de « The Whiffenpoof Song » transformée en un refrain à l’eau de vie entonné par des voix de soiffards épuisés:

NOUS SOMMES DE PAUVRES PETITS AGNEAUX,

QUI SE SONT ÉGARÉS.

BÊÊ! BÊÊ! BÊÊ!

Le mouton noir et cet insigne à l’extérieur qu’on ne peut pas manquer et les Chance Vought F4U Corsairs à l’intérieur, font que cet endroit, dès qu’on y met les pieds, respire l’histoire de l’aviation pour votre bonheur. Tout, même les murs des toilettes, est couvert de graffitis du jargon de l’aéronautique à l’unisson avec l’atmosphère des lieux. Chaque bribe de conversation est tournée vers le vol, les pilotes et les avions et bien sûr on s’y amuse beaucoup!

Il y a un genre d’alcôve dans l’arrière-salle faite d’authentiques sièges d’avions récupérés, de pièces de collection, d’autocollants et de photos. On peut même boire aviation. Même si les Têtes Brûlées n’est pas un dépôt des essences, on peut très bien vous y servir un « KEROSÈNE », un super cocktail toujours accompagné d’un grand sourire du personnel de la maison. Il semble que Jérôme, le patron, soit très connu dans la communauté aéronautique et bien au-delà de La Rochelle. Quels qu’ils soient, pilotes, PNC, membres d’équipage, mécaniciens, passionnés de l’aérospatiale, tous connaissent « l’antre du mouton noir ». Passionnés d’aviation, il faut absolument que vous vous y rendiez parce que vous pouvez être certains qu’on va vous y réserver un très bon accueil.

Cliquez ICI pour vous rendre au bar Les Têtes Brûlées.

TOURS AIRSHOW 2015

Red Arrows and Patrouille de France here below

Tours French Air Force Base celebrated its centenary this year on Sunday, the 7th of June as the air base was born in late 1915, fielded with the aviation school on Caudron G3. MF33 Flight (1/33 Belfort) was born in Tours in October 1914 but there is no evidence that it was stationed at Parçay-Meslay airfield.

The airshow gathered lots of aviation professionals as well as recreational aviation booths. About 56,000 people attended the event – a bit more than expected. The Belgian F-16 solo display, the Moroccan Marche Verte, the Red Arrows, the Patrouille de France, then the Rafale were the highlights of the beautiful day. The Swiss Army Super Puma helicopter performed an outstanding display, and a P-51 D Mustang and a Spitfire delighted WW2 fighter aircraft enthusiasts. Other flypasts performed by two Dassault Flamant MD.311, de Havilland Vampire and Mosquito made the attendees dream.

The visitors could also admire numerous aircraft in the static display area: RSAF and Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoons, a curious Piaggio 149 as its roundel comes from the UPDAF – Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force, a Caudron C.800 glider which looked like the C.25S that were used in the movie « Don’t look now… We’re being shot at! » (La grande vadrouille) flown by famous French actors Bourvil and Louis de Funès. A nice RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) Aermacchi M-346, a Dewoitine 501 which used to be stationed at Tours air base, a few WW2 Piper Cub, Dassault Mirage 2000-D, Mirage 2000-5, Rafale, and last but not least 2 A-10 Warthogs, and many more aircraft.

With the nice weather, cool northbound winds, and the smooth organisation, the event turned out to be a great success.

PILOT’S HEROIC, TRAGIC FATE

 

Florian Rochat's book cover - The legend of Little Eagle
Book Cover

THE LEGEND OF LITTLE EAGLE

« The Legend of Little Eagle » is a novel about destinies that intersect. It is based on a true story which involved an actual American pilot – Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz – whose warplane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while strafing a German train. He then made the decision of purposefully crashing into a clear area instead of dashing into a French village called Mardeuil in Champagne, in June 1944. He did not survive to his feat, but the villagers did.

LeRoy Lutz has been turned into « John Philippe Garreau », and LeRoy Lutz flew a P-38 Lightning whereas Garreau is on a P-51 Mustang for the novel.

Here is further information about this book from a post written by Florian Rochat – the book’s author – published in French on January 24th, 2012:

In 1999, while I was in Montana researching my novel « Cougar corridor », I discovered a letter mailed from France in 1947. It said how a pilot of the US Army Air Force, Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz, had avoided a tragedy by staying on his damaged plane in order not to fall on a small village of Champagne, Mardeuil. It was in June 1944. Having renounced the bail out option while still able to do so, Lutz (picture below) had paid with his life this heroic act. His Lightning P-38 crashed in a field.

I told in a previous article of this blog how this letter led me to write my latest novel, The Legend of Little Eagle.

But now I have found its author. His name is André Mathy and he lives in Epernay, France…

…Time passes by, History is forgotten, but for the old inhabitants of Mardeuil LeRoy Lutz is always a hero whose sacrifice helped avoid civilian casualties in their village. « This story keeps coming to my mind, » said André Mathy.

I have been able to find him, which moves me. For this endpoint in the long story that was the writing of The Legend of Little Eagle highlights a surprising phenomenon on which I return repeatedly – over the reconstruction of the life of my hero who experienced a similar fate to LeRoy Lutz – in this story in which the notion of fate is perhaps the theme: the meaning and weight of stories, as explained in several books by William Kittredge, one of the great writers of Montana. According to him, our lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative, with the stories that we tell or hear told, those that we dream or imagine or would like to tell, all of which are reworked in that story of our own lives that we narrate to ourselves in an episodic, somewhat semiconscious, but virtually uninterrupted monologue. We live immersed in narrative (have you noticed?) These stories allow us, according to him, to situate ourselves in the world, and find meaning in our existence in the chaos of life. « We live in stories. We are stories, »  he asserts.

“We tell stories to talk out the trouble in our lives, trouble otherwise so often so unspeakable. It is one of our main ways of making our lives sensible. Trying to live without stories can make us crazy. They help us recognize what we believe to be most valuable in the world, and help us identify what we hold demonic,” Kittredge adds.

Seventeen years ago, when he finally learned about his father’s display of courage, Richard Lutz, LeRoy’s son, declared: « I was twelve years old when my mother told me that my father had died in France. I always thought he was the bravest pilot on earth. But now I know. »

 This book has already had 4.7 stars out of 13 customer reviews on Amazon.fr. It is a breath-taking novel according to them. The readers did love Florian Rochat’s talent and style. The synopsis made them believe that it was a book on aviation. It is, with many scenes of air combat during John Philip Garreau’s missions over Germany and France. But there is more to it. As mentioned above, it mainly deals with puzzling questions on destiny and fates bound within a same tragic event. However, these readers loved reading this unbelievable story. Air combat is not swept out of sight as the act of gallantry when LeRoy Lutz veered away from the village to save lives is well highlighted. Moreover, the hero amazingly meets with a famous WWII aviator.

Many reviews, and articles have been posted about this book, especially in French since it was first written in French. Here are two of them:

https://baugelitt.eu/florian-rochat-la-legende-de-little-eagle-le-passe-tenace/

You can read Florian Rochat’s biography on Xavier Cotton’s blog « Passion pour l’Aviation« . Special thanks to Xavier who passed the information on.

« The Legend of Little Eagle » is on sale as an ebook on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.UK, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.com.au, Smashwords and other digital platforms, and as a paperback on all Amazon bookstores. Author’s website: http://www.florianrochat.com

6 June, 1944: Roosevelt’s prayer on D-Day (with script)

 

Excerpts of President Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT’s address on D-Day:

 

Transcript:

My fellow Americans,

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far, and so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.

Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight, and true. Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard for the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again, and we know that by thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried by night, and by day, without rest until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war, for these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. With thy blessing, we shall prevail… Over the unholy forces of our enemy.

Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen

PEARL HARBOR ATTACK & WWII

The Pearl Harbor Attack(called Hawaii Operation or Operation AI by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters – Operation Z in planning – and the Battle of Pearl Harbor) happened on Sunday December 7, 1941 ie 70 years ago. Here is a video of remembrance of the infamous day which dragged the United States of America into World War II:

 

Pearl Harbor: A Landmark in History, part 5 from Pacific Historic Parks on Vimeo.