Our missions in France
Les Ailes du Sourire
Since 1995, with the support of various flying clubs in France, Aviation Sans Frontières has organised events aiming to allow those with disabilities to discover the world of aeronautics.
The "Ailes du Sourire" events are intended for those with motor, sensory, cognitive or social disabilities, who are dependent on public or private help. Aviation Sans Frontières organises events in collaboration with the people working for the associations responsible for this help, and not directly with those with disabilities.
Since February 2009, Aviation Sans Frontières has organised free visits to aeronautical sites including the French Air Force, Air Traffic Control centres, and the main airports of Paris.
About sixty volunteer members from 10 flying clubs act as guides to the participants who enjoy an initiation to navigation and meteorology, a day out discovering the world of aeronautics and are then awarded a certificate. By working perfectly in sync with the flying clubs, volunteers ensure that all security measures for people, equipment and facilities are well-applied.
- In the Paris region, flights take place from the air bases of Ferté-Alais and Toussus-le-Noble.
- The air base at Aix-en-Provence operates all year round. From April to October, the flying clubs of Abbeville, Bordeaux, Caen, Dijon, Nantes, Perpignan, Saint-Omer, Sarlat, and Toulouse also participate in this chain of solidarity.
To operate these missions, Aviation Sans Frontières works in partnership with Les Ailes Brisées, Airbus Toulouse, the Airbus Foundation, ATR, l'Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis, Caisses d’Épargne banks, Dassault Aviation, the Air France Foundation, Banque Populaire d’Atlantique Foundation, Kiwis de Strasbourg, Biarritz’s Lions Club, Barbizon’s Rotary Club, la Ville de Nancy, among many others.
In 2021, more than 428 disabled people took part in 57 "Ailes du Sourire" days. The Ailes du Sourire events have been set up in cooperation within 10 French flying clubs for an average cost of 80 euros.
François Kohler, Aviation Sans Frontières volunteer, in charge of "Ailes du Sourire" events.
This programme was created in 2007 in order to present the world of aeronautics and its related jobs, as well as information on how to access them, to several groups of people. Among these groups are primary and secondary pupils, particularly those with social integration problems. This programme includes a virtual flying session on flight simulator software.
Additionally, students are given the opportunity to participate in activities like visiting control towers, Toussus-le-Noble’s apprentice training centre for aeronautical jobs, or the Airbus and ATR facilities based in Toulouse. Participants are given a general presentation of Aviation Sans Frontières, its social and humanitarian actions, and a brief history of aeronautics development and theoretics. The day ends with a presentation of jobs in the field of aeronautics.
Microsoft, Aéroports de Paris (ADP), St Jean-Baptiste de la Salle High School (Nantes), NVIDIA, Thrustmaster, Air France, Peugeot-Citroën, France VFR, la Fondation La Ferthé and many more.
In 2018, 738 teenagers from neighbourhood associations and high school participated in this programme.
Alain Mérour, volunteer, founder and head of e-Aviation.
Translation into English by Julian Malacan
Proof-reading in English by Chloe Anderson within the initiative PerMondo that is coordinated by the translation agency Mondo Agit