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Bastia: a boat in the air

By:  Hadrien Hubert

Published on: August 15, 2021 at 8:00 p.m.

In:  Culture - Leisure  /  Good deals in Corsica

As unlikely as it may seem, flying a boat is possible. The ULM-Hydro from Corsica Aero allows tourists and locals to fly over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Report from Arinella beach

Making humans fly, Leonardo da Vinci always dreamed of it. 400 sketches to theorize in particular the aerial screw, often interpreted as the ancestor of the helicopter.

The Tuscan inventor was also inspired by birds to develop the ornithopter, which is characterized by the deployment of two large wings. At the beach of Arinella floats above the Tyrrhenian Sea a funny machine with orange wings.

It is a ULM-Hydro, in other words a flying boat. In no way is it the fruit of Da Vinci's invention or even of a scientist in search of notoriety.

A beginning of history far from Corsica

A pendular sail, a boat between five and ten meters long, hovers near the city. As possible destinations: from Arinella to the commercial port for the shortest route and to the Genoese tower of Miomo for the longest route.

In 2015, the Corsica Aero company was created. Fabrice Verriere and Philippe Vicente obtain their flight license in Bourg-en-Bresse and embark on the aerial adventure. The first is from the Lyon region while the second travels "a little everywhere in France."

After obtaining their diploma and several hours of initiation to Corte, they take the plunge by settling on the beach of Arinella. A stretch of sand that Corsica Aero shares with Bastia Jet, whose eddies caused by jet skis temporarily cover the surface of the water.

On this day of swell and wind in Bastia, the two friends are forced to take their troubles patiently: "With these conditions, we are not taking any risks, we are not flying", explains Fabrice Verriere.

A way to stay down to earth in the face of the growing excitement caused by their device. It attracts the gaze of intrigued passers-by, some dare to venture while others prefer to stay on the quay.

Up there, the sea seems so blue

With the health crisis, only "about thirty flights" were made in 2020, a significant shortfall in the face of the purchase of a machine whose cost amounts to "several thousand euros" and whose Maintenance is to be done constantly.

A week later, the weather is favorable to fly over the sea. The citadel, the port of Toga and the Tyrrhenian Sea as a backdrop. At the start, a gradual acceleration of the machine on the water, like an airplane gaining momentum before taking off.



Once in the air, the ULM-Hydro begins a turn, the start of a loop to transit from the beach to the north. While the flight takes place at a speed of "70 to 80 km/h", it is feelings of slowness and appeasement that invade the minds.

In the event of failure of the propulsion engine or other problem, the flying boat has "the largest possible landing strip", the sea. Every morning, before starting the day, forty-five minutes of checks are necessary.



Although the flying machine uses the sail to hover, "it takes about twenty liters of gasoline per hour for the propulsion propeller to work at its best. Then the sail will gradually inflate with the air and the speed allows you to stabilize the machine".

At 150 meters above sea level, you think you're a bird that could see its reflection on the surface of the water.

An "indescribable" feeling that the two acolytes at the origin of the project never tire of: "Before, I had a stressful job on the Continent and it is by living in Corsica that you really realize the difference , explains Fabrice Verriere. 

Today, almost every morning, I go to the beach and fly and make people fly. I will never tire of this freedom found in the air. " A freedom that combines between sky and sea.

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