“Taking advantage of the sunshine of this beautiful spring evening, our dad took his last flight. “It is with this message that Baptiste Salis formalized the death of his father, Jean Salis, which occurred on June 2, at the age of 86. This disappearance arouses a wave of emotions in the world of aeronautics, which considers that it has lost “one of its giants”, and well beyond. His funeral will take place this Friday, June 9 at 2 p.m. in the church of Cerny.
Born in 1937, Jean Edmond Salis is “a legend” who communicated his passion for vintage aircraft to a wide audience. Witness the 40,000 spectators at the 50th edition, on May 27 and 28, of the Cerny La Ferté-Alais air show, which has become “The Mecca of vintage aviation in France”, and of which it is at the origin. .
“On June 2, 2023, during the day, Jean Salis left, for his last trip, his last flight, is moved by the Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis, which preserves and maintains collector planes in flight condition, while enhancing the aeronautical heritage at the Cerny La Ferté-Alais aerodrome. Jeannot will forever remain the founder and soul of our association. Beyond our deep sadness, all our thoughts go out to his family. »
Among the Salis, aviation has been a family affair for three generations, and the 4th, Jean’s grandchildren, are already contaminated. Jean-Baptiste Salis, the father of Jean Salis, was a figure in aeronautics. In 1936, the latter built an airfield on the site of a former sawmill located between Cerny and La Ferté-Alais. This will be the playground of Jean and his sister Irène. And the site will quickly become one of the most active gliding centers in France.
He collaborated for 150 films including L’As des as with Belmondo
In 1955, Jean-Baptiste Salis opened a workshop for the restoration of old cuckoo clocks in Cerny. After his death in 1967, his son Jean, helped by his sister Irène, took up the torch and went in search of the planes that marked their father’s career. This is how the collection begins. Jean Salis became an expert for the cinema, coordinated aerial battles and collaborated on 150 films such as “le Jour le plus long” “l’As des aces” with Jean-Paul Belmondo or even the “Indiana Jones”.
In the 1970s, he created a flying museum with dozens of legendary aircraft models, such as the Blériot XI, Stearman PT17s (pre-Second World War biplanes) or a Morane-Saulnier Type H, and several are classified as historical monuments. They also have the particularity of all being able to fly, not content to be admired on the ground.
In the process, the first aeronautical festival was born with the Amicale aeronautique de Cerny―La Ferté-Alais, which would later take the name of the Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis and of which Jean Salis was the first president.
He fought to lift a law banning old planes from flying
“I am losing a very close friend, laments Marie-Claire Chambaret, the (unlabeled) mayor of Cerny, whose wedding he witnessed. He worked a lot for the town, where he was elected for 20 years. He strongly contributed to the economic development of the Ardennay plateau, which was only a farm before. He lived in the aura of his dad, he spent his whole life buying, assembling and dismantling planes. »
Marie-Claire Chambaret remembers that in 1965, when gliding had to move to Buno-Bonneveaux for lack of space in Cerny and because it was too close to Orly airport, “it was difficult”. “He then compensated by buying planes all over the world. I remember once when he warned me that he was going to look for one in Thailand, says the chosen one. He was passionate and he transmitted his passion. To his family, but also to the general public. In the 1970s, every Sunday he offered free first flights to the children of the town. It was exceptional. »
The mayor of Cerny remembers Jean Salis as a “pugnacious” man. “At one time, a law prohibited old planes from flying, she rewinds. He made a huge effort to have this measure lifted. It took him 11 years of process. When it was created, the meeting was called the Aéro folklorique. From the first editions, there were miles of traffic jams around. Jean wanted his work to continue to evolve and be perpetuated. This will be by his sons and grandchildren, and his wife Brigitte. His passion will continue to live through them. »