The genesis of the meeting

Melun-Villaroche: A mythical aerodrome

On the plateau of Villaroche, in the village of Montereau-sur-Jard, North of Melun, Prefecture of Seine-et-Marne, a field of aviation was seeing the light of day at the beginning of 1939 on a domain of 137 hectares. Planes – Salmson Cricri, Morane 138, Caudron Luciole – which came from the site near Crisenoy-Fouju, settled in two hangars. When the conflict broke out, a Potez 631 twin-engine squadron settled and had to share its field with Albert Moreau Aero-Club where there was a military flying school and the night hunting was in charge to protect the Parisian region.

Credit © Dassault Aviation - Rights reserved
Credit © Jour de France

Melun-Villaroche was successively occupied by the French, German and American armies. The Luftwaffe settled on 1 June 1940 for four years. The Germans, as early as 1941, started building two concrete runways (East-West, North-South) each measuring 1 600 meters, equipped with parking spaces in order to exploit Junkers Ju 88, then ju 188. The airfield is bombarded regularly. The Germans evacuated on 22 August 1944, leaving room for the Americans with North American squadrons. At the end of the year 1944, the land will be assigned to the Technical and Industrial Aeronautics Directorate (TID). For several months, Messerschmitt Me 262 equipped with Junkers Jumo 004 reactors had been stored on the aerodrome before being sent to the United States.

In addition, the base is best known for the numerous tests of civil and military prototypes that took place there until the beginning of the 1980's, in particular those of several planes Mystère, Mirage, Etendard, planes with vertical takeoff Balzac (which gave its name to the Balzac Area where the aircraft was tested in vertical flight), etc., from Dassault Aviation. Other aircraft manufacturers assemble their new equipment such as Breguet Aviation (Jaguar, Taon), René Hirsch, René Leduc, Morane-Saulnier (MS 755 Fleuret Paris), Potez Aviation (Potez 840, Potez 75) SNCAN (North 2500 Noratlas, Nord 262, Gerbe, Nord C160 Transall, Griffon), SNCASO (Vulture, swordfish, Trident, Aquilon) (1).

At the end of the year 1946, the aerodrome benefited from the construction of buildings and hangars in the north of the slopes then the control tower. In december 1947, this aerodrome received the flight tests of the Snecma – Safran Aircraft Engines today – previously based on the Vélizy-Villacoublay airfield. The Safran Group's engine Division also wrote aeronautical pages there by assembling military thrusters such as the M53 (Mirage 2000) or the M88 (Rafale), as well as the range of civil reactors CFM and Leap, which are the most produced engines in the world. , equipping among others the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

On February 28, 1948, Colonel Constantin Rozanoff opened the airfield to the jet aircraft by taking off for his first test flight, a Dassault Hurricane equipped with Rolls-Royce Nene engines.

He unfortunately died on 3 April 1954 during the presentation of a Mystery IV following a failure of the flight controls.

In the 1980's, the slopes, 60 meters wide and 2 800 meters long (today 1 972 m) for that oriented East-West and 2 400 meters (today 1 300 m) for that oriented North-South, allow the landing of planes of which landing mass is 60 tonnes. This aerodrome, for a long time under the authority of the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), dependent on the Ministry of Defence, became the responsibility of the Ministry of transport in January 1982. The flight tests were transfered to Brétigny and then to Istres and Cazaux to flout the constraints of air traffic in the Paris region.

Credit © Dassault Aviation - Rights reserved

Transferred in 2007 by the State to SYMPAV (Mixed Syndicate of the Villaroche Activity Center), the aerodrome, open to public air traffic, is used by a centre of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Aero-Club of Melun-Villaroche "Constantin Rozanoff", Aero-Sotravia, maintenance workshops, and collectors of ancient planes. Among the preserved planes, a DC 3 that flies regularly in meetings or travels, sheltered in historical hangars, designed by Eiffel, one can also discover a Hurel-Dubois HD-34 characterized by its wing with a large elongation of 46 meters. Junker 52, Mystery IV, Lysander, Skyraider, Tiger Moth, Nord 1101, T-6, Broussard Seaavion Latécoère 28, Stormovick and many other planes that still complete the fleet of the association which is animated by Didier Chable and some former pilots and mechanics of the Flight Test Center.

A collection of engines of all types and elements of various devices (Blériot XI, Messerschmitt Me-109, Farman 40, V1...) is also stored. Engines lovers will however find on the other side of the East-West runway another Museum, the one where the Safran Group maintains the memory of its ancestors Gnome & Rhône, Snecma, Hispano-Suiza, Sagem, Sep, Renault aviation.

The aerodrome is currently developing business aviation in the East of Paris in addition to the Bourget, Pontoise and Toussus-Le-noble. It is envisaged to host fifty business aircrafts per month on average within one to two years. Since April 2013, a "handling" company (airport reception and assistance) Elyxan, is installed there and a heated hangar of 2 400 m2 can accommodate a dozen jets.

(1) A reference book, History of the Aeronautical Centre of Melun-Villaroche by Robert Lamouche at the Éditions Puits Fleuri.