Incredible but true: a direct Biscarrosse/New York airline!

by JP et MC Tavin

In 1918, Pierre Georges Latécoère began building aircraft. Determined to connect France to its ultra-marine colonies, he wants to fly over the oceans. From 1919, the Toulouse mail arrives, by air, in Casablanca, then Senegal and South America by regular flights. He then embarked on passenger transport and chose Biscarrosse (and its lake) as an aeronautical base.

Seaplanes built in Toulouse are transported to Biscarrosse, assembled and tested. Air France, Lufthansa, the Pan Am, all these companies supply themselves in the small town of Landes.

Biscarrosse-New York! First «air liner», the Laté 521, built for long-haul flights, connects non-stop Biscarrosse to New York. On board the giant hexaengine seaplanes Latécoère 521, on July 15, 1939, Henri Guillaumet made the direct connection New York – Biscarrosse in 28 hours of flight, or 5,875 km at the average of 206 km/ h. 

A regular line was to be born from this feat, the plane could transport 72 passengers in great comfort: with lounge, luxury cabins, bar, bathrooms, kitchen, the luxury of a transatlantic liner. Getaways reserved for a (very) wealthy clientele who arrived from Paris by train at Biscarrosse station.

But all this was very brief and the outbreak of the world war stopped the dreams of Latécoère and the development of the airport of Biscarrosse/ Lahitte and the region of the Great Lakes Landais.

The Lahitte base closed in 1955. This is the end of Latécoère seaplanes and the rise of seaplanes in general (too subject to climatic hazards for regular connections).

Now, instead, there is the only Hydraviation Museum in Europe that traces this epic.