C'était au temps…ou BREL s'envolait

In the late 60's, Jacques Brel was one among the happy ones who owned a Wassmer airplane built in Issoire. Twenty years later, his waryness and his generosity are still alive in his friends' mind.

She is pretty and she smell new stuffs, the Super Wassmer is just coming of the assembly hall located located next to the Issoire airflield.

November is ending and it's cold, but the the new airplane's owner does not mind. He walks firmly across the tarmac. Warmly dressed with a sheepskin coat and a "tartan" cap screwed on his head, this pilot is Jacques Brel. He has taken a few weeks off in the  Saint-Austremoine's city in order to get well acquainted with the airplane controls.

The singer is also fond of airplanes. He has already owned two of them, purchased second hand and now, he has a brand new one. In the city, Jacques Raynaud, was among the first ones who saw Jacques Brel arriving. Jacques Raynaud was the current owner of the "Hôtel du parc",  2, avenue de la Gare :

"One day,  Jean Pierre Dumont,  Wassmer Aviation general manager called me  "

"I am sending you four customers" said JP.

"And here came Jacques Brel and Georges Pasquier, his friend, secretary and manager."

Very soon, the two "Jacques" spend lots of time together. And the two aviation fan's  draw a bunch of friends around. The "Reims' lemonade" (champaign) and the "Scottich lime-blossom tea" (whisky) become current beverages recalls a laughing Raynaud.

Short nights alternate with parties, "I had a hard time to close the shop" but it was to take a better advantage of the night "which we ended at Pierre Bournet's in Vodable " sais Raynaud. Among thos friends was "la Zette", gliders altitude world champion.

According to the hôtel manager, now retired, Brel was "a simple and generous guy, not "haughty for a penny".

During the day, Jacques Brel returns to his passion and spends the afternoon on the airfield. Then, once he ended his training and got all the administrative work done, he flew back to his "flat country".

A few months later, the belgian singer lands in Issoire again, his aircraft needs an overhaul. On that day the man in charge of the airclub office and see the two men is André Florisson :

"Jacques Brel" says the man who shakes his hand "and here is my friend Jean, but don't worry, we don't live together"

André Florisson was an electronic teacher in the army technician school and he owned a small single seater Jodel powered by a Volswagen Beetle engine. Brel was amused by the shape of the plane and used to refer to her as "the Beast". But he did not decline to fly her once.

And here they go again for three weeks of parties, Jacques was paying for everything, it became embarassing. Did Jacques sing during those nights ? Yes, but only lecherous songs! Otherwise, the man remained reserved "always showing his back to the door" remembers Jacques Raynaud.

Jacques will come for an ultimate visit to the "Hôtel le Parc", he expected to spend the day only there. He left the next morning after a hot "Issoirian" night. Twenty years after the artist death, Jacques, Andre and many others remember.

Their Belgian friend sarcastic laugh still sounds inside the airclub hangars.

Fan of airplanes, Jacques Brel came to get familiar with his brand new plane, a Super 4 from WASSMER.

It was in 1969, an opportunity to grow a nice bunch of fellows.


Based upon talks with Jacques Raynaud's who managed the  the "hôtel le Parc" from 1956 till 1989 when he sold it to me.

Roger ROBIN                            

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