l'aéronautique, le spatial, les choses de l'air et du vide, et leurs environnements au prise des SHS

Dossier thématique / Thematic Section  |  

[Sommaire du numéro / Summary of the current issue]


Guillaume Pinson

Milestones in the History of “Aerial Literature”: the Case of Air France Revue (1930-1970)


Le présent article vise à contribuer à l'étude d'un genre médiatique de littérature de voyage, la « littérature aérienne », afin de poser quelques jalons dans l’histoire largement inconnue des magazines distribués à bord des avions commerciaux. Les « magazines de bord » les plus récents sont connus pour développer une ligne éditoriale mêlant autopromotion, divertissement et patrimonialisation de la compagnie aérienne en tant que marque. Mais l’histoire de ce média reste encore à faire, et nécessite des regards croisés et comparés, à commencer par l’étude des premières publications des compagnies aériennes commerciales. Afin de rendre compte d’une recherche en cours et encore embryonnaire, cet article s’intéresse à Air France Revue, magazine publié entre 1930 et 1970. La lecture intégrale d’Air France Revue donne accès à une certaine expérience du voyage et à la place accordée aux passagers ainsi qu’à leur relation sensorielle avec la nouveauté, et plus tard avec la banalisation, du vol.


The present article aims to contribute to the study of a media genre of travel literature, the “aerial literature”, in order to place a few milestones in the largely unknown history of magazines distributed onboard commercial aircraft. The most recent “inflight magazines” are known for developing an editorial line blending self-promotion, entertainment and patrimonialization of the airline company as a brand. But the history of this media is still to be done, and necessitates crossed and compared insights, starting with the study of the first commercial airlines’ publications. In order to give accounts of an ongoing and still embryonic research, this article focuses on Air France Revue, a magazine published between 1930 and 1970. The integral reading of Air France Revue gives access to a certain experience of travel and to the place granted to passengers as well as to their sensorial relationship with the novelty, and later on with the normalization, of flying.

Texte intégral

1The relationship between press and travel is intimate, at least since the beginnings of the “media era”1. Periodicals specialized in travel and geographical discovery are well known, from Le Tour du monde, launched by Hachette in 1860 and major source of inspiration for Jules Verne’s Voyages extraordinaires, to magazines such as Géo (in France) or the National Geographic (in the United States), that nurtured many awakenings to the desire of travel in the era of mass tourism. A little less familiar to the specialists interested in past media culture are the forms adapted to specific means of travel: the newspaper distributed to travelers in trains and stations, proposing descriptions of the landscapes and tourist attractions2; or the newspapers printed on board of ocean liners in order to fulfill the emptiness of the long trip, offering news from the boat and the land3. To these niche periodicals we must associate the small papers distributed in resort locations, for example in hotels and spa towns, since the beginning of the nineteenth century, to inform travelers about the surrounding country, or else the abundant literature constituting in travel guides. All these publications, intended for travelers, testified of a new fear, which accompanied the raise of media modernity: to suffer an unbearable “disconnection”. The proliferation of newspapers since the first third of the nineteenth century had created an intense need of feeling daily related to the world and to one’s contemporaries. It seemed normal that the newspaper could accompany each and every form of the human experience of time and space, and travel literature hence followed the traveler in its trips, from starting point to destination.

2The present article aims to contribute to the study of these media genres of travel literature and “route literature”4, as named by Sylvain Venayre, or, more accurately in this case, of “aerial literature”, in order to place a few milestones in the unknown and later history of magazines distributed on board aircraft. Having been studied, the most recent “inflight magazines” are known for developing an editorial line blending self-promotion, entertainment and patrimonialization of the airline company as a brand5. But the history of this media is still to be done, and necessitates crossed and compared insights, starting with the study of the first commercial airlines’ publications. In order to give accounts of an ongoing and still embryonic research, we will limit ourselves to the case of the history of Air France Revue (1930-1970, Fig. 1), which has become Air France Atlas (197?-1997), then Air France Magazine (1997 to the present day), so that we can follow the linked developments of commercial airlines and of this specific type of periodical, often skimmed by passengers just before take-off, with a somewhat distracted eye. We will concentrate on the Air France Revue decades, that to say the years 1930s to 1960s, during which the national airline put together a media support particularly rich to accompany the different phases of its expansion, and called on various collaborators.

(Fig. 1)

A cover of the magazine in the 1930s, Air France Revue, 2/spring (1935).

Image 1000000000000221000002E4112C751BE4FB5563.png

(Musée Air France)

1. The “revue” as an embodiment of French culture

3The integral reading of Air France Revue6 gives access to a certain experience of travel and to the place granted to passengers as well as to their sensorial relationship with the novelty, and later on with the normalization, of flying. It also allows to distinguish three “chronotopes”, which we will define following Mickaïl Bakhtine, in a general way, as “the essential correlation of spatio-temporal relations”7 as they are engaged in narrative discourse, and that guided our analysis of the periodical. Firstly, it consists in a “heroic-technical” chronotope, comprising the crews and aircrafts, more present in the first decades of the revue and at the early stages of Air France history; it is associated with the early development of commercial aviation. This chronotope is gradually being replaced by a “travel” chronotope, dedicated to the representation of destinations, to the expansion of the airline network and to the experience of travel. The study of the transition from the “heroic-technical” to the “travel” chronotope is susceptible to point out a certain history of the flying experience and of the media literature that accompanied the passengers from the beginnings of commercial aviation. Finally, a “France” chronotope has always been active in the periodical, from Air France Revue to the actual inflight Air France Magazine. Through it, readers could (and can) associate the airline they were flying with “French” qualities and identity: it is based on representations of the metropole, of colonial space (1930-1960) and of the Overseas territories, as well as on articles describing French culture and literature.

4This later chronotope is closely intertwined with the revue as a specific media genre, and thus was adopted at the very beginning of Air France Revue. After the 1933 grouping of airlines – including the emblematic Aéropostale – that gives birth to Air France, the new entity soon feels the need to produce a promotion material, exemplified in Air France’s famous publicity posters, notorious for they graphic quality. It seems that the company had the idea quite early on to distribute the revue in the seat pocket facing the passenger. The periodical then formed, with the “itinerary map”8, a part of the printed material made available in the confined space of the cabin. As with railroads magazines and small resorts brochures, this aerial publication was (and still is) distributed free on board. Air France Revue first appears on a monthly basis, before becoming quarterly in 1935; suspended during the war, the periodical comes back in 1948 in a 120 to 200 pages format, varying from an issue to another, and with a fluctuant publication rhythm, annual or quarterly, until the threshold of the 1970s. The will to transform it into a high standard “revue” dedicated to art, history and French culture, as well as calling on literary and often prestigious collaborations, stands out clearly from the post-war issues up to the end of the years 1960s. The “revue”, as a French type of periodical, involved a very specific editorial and writing work as well as reading practices, all of which were socially and historically firmly anchored9, put to good use by Air France’s editors. Throughout its publication, Air France Revue hence activates (and reconfigures according to the times and the news) the “France” chronotope, using the mediation of the genre and history of the revue, a literary and cultural emblem very specifically identified in the scale of media legitimacy.

5During this whole period (1940s-1960s), the revue presents itself as an “album”, to insist on its own material quality, with its numerous photographs and reproductions of works of art. Maximilien Vox10, artistic director since 1948, congratulates himself in the issue of autumn 1950 for the existence, henceforth, of “an aerial view of the world extending to all problems, and whose the builders of Air France Revue wish only to be the faithful interpreters”11. Though not very precise in its significance, this “aerial view of the world” especially lays in the collaboration and regular staging of numerous writers. The literary pantheon of the revue, exclusively composed of academicians12 and recognized writers, supports the “France” chronotope. Travel writers like Blaise Cendrars and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry appear from time to time, as well as authors associated to narratives of the land and terroir, such as Jean Giono and Marcel Pagnol. But at the summit of this literary pantheon reigns Jules Verne, with its mythical Tour du monde en 80 jours (Around the World in 80 Days) and Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon)13. The reader of Air France Revue could remember in which surprising means of transport Verne’s heroes traveled, comfortably installed in the living rooms of the Nautilus, in the many trains enameling Verne’s novels, and, of course, in the heavier-then-air machine described in Robur-le-Conquérant and mentioned in the revue, in 1967, in the frame of an article about the history and pionneers of aviation14. Narratives and illustrations of the Voyages extraordinaires (The Extraordinary Voyages) certainly inhabited the readers’ imaginaries and colored their experience of travel. For the 80th anniversary of the airline, in 2013, Air France Magazine’s editorial still echoes the 80 days of Jules Verne’s famous trip15.

6A certain literary and artistic sensibility also made it possible to apprehend the aerial world, the sensations of the voyage, radically new to many passengers. At the heart of this experience of air travel, the following paradox prevails: planes may be a revolution in the speed of travel, yet they leave, perhaps for the first time in the history of travel, a certain impression of immobility due to the remoteness of the landscapes overflown, an impression that will increase as planes fly higher and higher. The immobile and abstract landscapes overflown echoes the atmosphere of the cabin, a small enclosed world that involves investing rituals intended to deceive the boredom of travel. Several times in the early years, the revue evokes the novel by Maurice Renard, A Motionless Journey (1909)16, as well as the story of Xavier de Maistre, Voyage Around my Room (1795)17, to express this singular experience of the cabin18. This was also expressed by a visual sensibility. “Seen from the air”, says a series of aerial photographs in the summer issue of 1963, “the landscape ceases to belong to the world of learned forms to appear in a new dimension of consciousness. It then takes the beauty of abstract painting with which the eye must be acquainted before perceiving it” (p. 66)19. Already in a 1936 issue, a reporter-writer and contributor to the magazine, Luc Durtain, was astonished at the transformation of perspectives engendered by the journey: “After distance, geometry”20, he summed up in one stroke to evoke the miniature, almost unreal landscape that ran beneath him. The aerial view, at the time of the rise of commercial aviation, thus generates a “shift in the point of view”21 among travelers, to use the expression of Thierry Gervais, a change that the magazine will seek to accompany by educating the passenger’s eye. Unlike some free periodicals that were distributed in trains in the nineteenth century, the aerial revue cannot focus on the description of places of tourist interest from the regions and countries overflown by airplanes, and will rather transpose them into a speech about landscapes seen from afar, supported by aerial photographs with aesthetic qualities close to abstraction. In its somewhat later period (the turning point being situated towards the 1950s), the journal particularly works on the rendering of an external world that appears into the form of “surfaces”, lines and links; we will come back to this, especially concerning the graphic representations of the Air France network.

2. The rise of the “travel” chronotope

7The revue has some pedagogical purposes; it explains how to behave on board, how to recognize the different phases of the flight and not worry, how to enjoy the trip, and even sometimes, in the early years, how to dress for the cabin22. The “heroic-technical” chronotope would not only concern the crew, but passengers themselves, who had to conquer this very new form of travel that was aviation. For instance, the representation of the traveling couple constitutes, in Air France Revue, a real topos in the staging of passengers, and makes it possible to boast with a lot of strength the pleasures of the trip. Not only does the cabin of the aircraft reproduce all the elements of a refinement invariably presented as typically French, but this couple was also staged outside the plane, particularly in series of photographs by Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis in the late 1940s: we can see the couple, happy to arrive at their destination, to visit Paris and rush into the palaces23. The journal, thus, has recourse to prestigious photographers and to some major photographic agencies, which give Air France Revue a form of iconographic legitimacy that would favorably impact on the brand “Air France”. Inevitably, with the expansion of the clientele, the representation of the family also becomes essential, on the threshold of the 1950s. As evidenced by the autumn issue of 1952 devoted to childhood, the plane gradually becomes more democratic, it can transport both the President of the Republic and young families and passengers who begin to experience a journey that is, we guess, a little less comfortable24

8Nevertheless, reading the newspaper, smoking, eating, drinking, are gradually becoming promotional arguments for the airlines, and the introduction of pressurized cabins and especially the “Constellation”, a fast airliner, at Air France, in the mid-1940s, triggers a discourse particularly nurtured on the amenities of the trip25. The cabin turns into a bedroom and entertainment space, while the aircraft delivers an increasingly fierce competition to the comfort of cruise ships. According to the journal, the pleasure of traveling even starts from the very first reception of the passengers, in Air France’s agencies and Invalides station where passengers were then taken care of, before being transported by bus to the Bourget or Orly. Throughout reading, we meet many reportages on the operation of the Invalides’ terminal and the staff at work, especially in the kitchens where the meals to be served on board aircrafts were prepared26. The revue then adopts the codes of fashion and luxury publications. “Of course, it’s more like being at a big fashion designer or a great perfumer than in a train station”27, it says. Still little known and destined for a clientele that remains to be convinced and conquered, the magazine hence insists on the “perfection of comfort”28 that the company brings to its passengers, while seeking to neutralize the effect somewhat destabilizing, even distressing, of the journey in the air.

9The staging of the comfort of a quick trip is largely based on the weaving of another narrative in the periodical, for self-promotional purposes: that of the rigor of the work of the entire professional chain that ensures the flight of aircrafts as well as their maintenance on the ground, including the flight crew, stewards and flight attendants. The technical maintenance and the training of the crews lead to numerous reportages, which regularly activate the heroic-technical chronotope that we mentioned earlier29. In the 1930s, a discourse on aerial adventure lives on, that still gives a lot of importance to the great historical milestones of the conquest of air and even sometimes to the dangers of flying. In the spring of 1936 issue, a journalist even does one thing we will not encounter any more in later issues, and we can understand why: to tell the loss of an aircraft, in February of the same year, during a journey across South Atlantic between Dakar and Natal, a story very unlikely to reassure passengers30. At this time of transition to the travel chronotope, heroism and ultimate sacrifice are still acceptable in the minds of the magazine’s designers, who intend to demonstrate to what extent the dedication of the crews is complete. Moreover, the heroic figures of aerial literature (Saint-Exupéry, Guilleaumet and especially Mermoz, who will disappear himself at the end of the same year) certainly come into play in these representations which would today be unthinkable in an Inflight Magazine. In this example the “heroic-technical” chronotope is pushed to his maximum extension, and the accident can be interpreted as a sacrifice by the crew. But besides, as it is showed more and more frequently over the years, Air France’s staff devotes a lot of time by its work and its rigor so that the time earned by the traveler is gained on a safe and comfortable background. The discourse on heroism that praises the first crews gradually finds its way back in the late 1940s, evolving into the discourse on the perfection of the functioning of Air France as an organization, a source of trust.

3. Network figuration: from time to space

10Before the massification of air transport, the reading of the revue reveals a first sequence of representations related to the experience of travel, located in the 1930s-1950s: we could summarize it as a form of negation, or at the least an attenuation, of temporality. By valuing both the speed of travel and the luxurious pleasures of the cabin, the periodical suggests that its passengers forget the time that passes by and do not worry much about the duration of the trip, otherwise in order to appreciate its brevity. The promotional discourse of the company, relayed by the journal, reflects these ideas unambiguously: “Air France abolishes the servitudes of time and space removes hastiness abridges absence”31; “Air France sells time”32. The surprising motionless journey suppresses the torments of waiting and feeds many articles that praise the almost instantaneous speed at which passengers and cargo move. One of the often staged figures of the early years is that of the industrialist, the businessman taken by his numerous obligations in major European cities. In the spring issue of 1935, he finds out about the benefits of flying: “I’m figuring out how much time – and therefore money – I lost staying until now in the dark about the existence of air services” (p. 16)33. In the summer of 1935, an airplane is described “full of industrialists who fly the line as others take the metro”34. In the winter of the same year, the industrialist is pictured on the telephone, as we see the factories behind him: “…okay, in two hours I’ll be in London”35. During those same years, the revue is full of representations that make the time of travel appear both as a time shortened to a minimum and a time gained, appreciated, and even tasted.

11However, the progressive activation of the “travel” chronotope has an impact on the representation of Air France’s network of air links. This leads us to consider some graphic elements of the publication and to come back to this aesthetic of trait and connection that we mentioned earlier. This aesthetic does not immediately prevail because, from the 1930s until the threshold of the 1950s, Air France’s network is never represented by trajectory lines on maps but by the duration of the trips: the shortness of these must mark its passengers’ imagination and within the chronotope “travel”, time was then predominant on space. We must insist that the revue deploys a lot of imagination to graph these victoriously decreased laps of time (Fig. 2 and 3). This results in a slightly “de-spatialized” representation of the journeys, which can be symbolized in a watch superposed with an aircraft engine (Fig. 4) as well as in the breath of air stirred by the propellers that carry passengers to their destination (Fig. 5). It is only from the beginning of the 1950s that the journal abandons the “temporal” representation of the network and switches to representation in the form of lines schematizing air routes: the very first map of Air France’s global network appears in the spring 1950 issue36, then is quickly improved and enriched (Fig. 6).

(Fig. 2)

Representation of Air France network by flight duration (1), Air France Revue, 5/spring (1936), 28-29.

Image 100000000000030800000211F78F263A78B53F64.png

(Musée Air France)

(Fig. 3)

Representation of Air France network by flight duration (2), Air France Revue, 5/spring (1936), 30-31.

Image 10000000000002DA000001ED085B1FA9E561DE0A.png

(Musée Air France)

(Fig. 4)

The Air France network represented in the shape of a clock and airplane propellers, Air France Revue, spring 1949, 132.

Image 10000000000001EE000002A9C652610907B23FC9.png

(Musée Air France)

(Fig. 5)

The Air France network in 1950, represented by flight duration, Air France Revue, spring 1950, 90-91.

Image 100000000000030200000203967A3154CF59568C.png

(Musée Air France)

(Fig. 6)

The geographical representation of the network first appears in 1951, Air France Revue, spring (1951), 12-13.

Image 1000000000000287000001D50085A5513B8FF0C2.png

(Musée Air France)

12The chronotope henceforth gives more importance to spatiality, temporality receding in the ways of representing travel. This change corresponds to a period when the discourse about time gained on the other means of transport is progressively attenuated, because the plane is about to dethrone definitely the train and the boat on the long courses. After the introduction of jet aircrafts, the Caravelle and the Boeing 707, in the late 1950s, flight times will not vary much, will be better assimilated by passengers and thus become used selling arguments37. In addition, with the introduction of the “Tourist” class in 1952, renamed “economy” class in the early 1960s, air transport definitely enters “mass transport”38. “Seats are smaller, there are no more orchids or champagne, but… ticket prices are considerably reduced”39, writes Georges Février in 1952. For many passengers, the experience of flying becomes banal and more frequent, and the airline no longer sells time but the regularity and reliability of a “line”: hence the graphic change we notice in the revue which will work to draw its global network of air links and to display the “surfaces” of travel more than its duration. Over the issues, the journal redraws its network (and diversely deals with the problem of representing the Earth on a flat surface), but invariably preserves the practice of map and “line” (the line symbolizing the air link, an identity well-expressed by the plurisemic meaning of the French word “ligne” that can refer to the drawn line, to the air link as well as to the airline). This does not prevent the expression of a significant creativity in the representation of the network, such as with these 1968 “bundles of air links”40 (Fig. 7) where continents are formed by metal plates, reminiscent of pieces of aircraft with rivets, linked by electrical cables that provide the “connections” between Paris and the cities served: amazing but almost illegible sculptures based on the context of the arrival of computing in the airline industry and inspired, says the revue, by the work of sculptor Roch-Berny41. Artistic activities and aesthetic/graphic forms were still important during this period in Air France Revue, and French artists would be regularly mentioned. The material representation of the network inspired by Roch-Berny recall echoes the posters commissioned in 1967 to the painter Georges Mathieu42 as well as the curious “pianococktail” imagined by Boris Vian in Foam of the Daze43 and adapted for the cinema in 1968 by Charles Belmont (the apparatus from the movie is reproduced by the revue: Fig. 8), all presented in this same issue of 1968, a very rich edition in terms of graphic arts. As we can see, the journal demonstrates an astonishing visual work sustained, as here, by imaginaries of the connection, visually embodied by “wired” and linear forms. The imagination of connection and communication intensified at the end of the 1960s and information technology made its entry into the world of aviation44, particularly through passenger reservation systems. The pianococktail can be perceived as a symbolic form of this era of hyper-connection, however extravagant Boris Vian’s invention may be.

(Fig. 7)

Allegorical representation of the Air France network: metal, rivets and cables, a piece of art by the sculptor Roch-Berny, Air France Revue, 38 (1968), 72-73.

Image 10000000000002FB0000020925ADA519B7137E51.png

(Musée Air France)

(Fig. 8)

The “pianococktail” imagined by Boris Vian in L’Écume des jours (Foam of the Daze), Air France Revue, 38 (1968), 59.

Image 1000000000000211000002C49619B5EE12D277E6.png

(Musée Air France)

4. Conclusion

13In short, such imaginaries are the ones discussed in the Air France revue, and probably within every “Inflight Magazine” at the time when civil aviation developed the practices and rituals of travel, backing them to certain collective representations of the new spatio-temporal experiences of the media era. The air link, represented in the journal by all sorts of discursive and iconographic features, and connecting schematically two points of the world sometimes very distant one from the other, exploits a certain “media imaginary”, that is to say the great narrative of information that began to circulate in the social discourse of the nineteenth century with the rise of printed media45. Before being an air passenger, the reader of Air France Revue, in his daily life, is a regular consumer of the press, which history is much older than air travel, and we can say that airlines have literally sought to get this reader on board, with its media culture, references and expectations. At the turn of the 1970s and in the era of mass air transport, the revue bends its formula towards the genre of the magazine, on which it will capitalize with Air France Atlas and even more explicitly with Air France Magazine from 1997. This kind of press with a diverse readership, emphasizing more varied and short news, consumption and leisure, printed on coated paper (offering bright colors and strong contrasts), then knows its golden age46. It is clear that the editorial history of the airline follows the developments in the French market of the printed press.

14The rest of this brief investigation into an “embedded” periodic object such as that of Air France Revue could be expanded and confronted, as regards the experience of travel and cabin, with certain testimonies, for example that of Alix d’Unnienville47, stewardess, then reporter after the Second World War or, of course, with other similar periodicals, some of which also have a rich enough story, like the revues of KLM airline, in Holland, and of Pan Am airline, in the United States. All of those allow us to consider, under a certain light, the history of air travel, its perceptions and impressions, to the prism of the media. Like any economic activity of the media age and especially in the transport field, the development of commercial aviation could not be thought of outside the press. Even if the deployment of screens in aircrafts would gradually complement the entertainment offer on board, and if the increasingly commercial and corporate orientation of “inflight magazines” substantially change the purposes of the latter, it remains no less than from the 1930s to the present day, periodicals such as that of Air France are part of a certain imaginarie of the journey that accompanies and inspires the daydreams of the passengers, and maintains the desires of travel.


1 In the original French text: “l’ère médiatique”, whose starting point is situated, according to Marie-Ève Thérenty and Alain Vaillant, in the years 1830: see M.-È. Thérenty and A. Vaillant (ed.), 1836, l’An I de l’ère médiatique (Paris: Nouveau Monde, 2001). We will indicate in a footnote the original French text of all further translations.

2 S. Venayre, “ ‘MM. les voyageurs sont invités à replacer la planchette et le journal à l’endroit qui leur est assigné dans la voiture: la littérature de la route et le journal gratuit”, in G. Pinson and M.-È. Thérenty (eds.), Les journalistes: identités et modernité. Actes du premier Congrès Médias 19, Médias 19 [online database],, accessed 20 Jan. 2018.

3 Like the Compagnie générale transatlantique, which publishes, since 1906, the Journal de l’Atlantique. See C. Ducroix and A. Marshall, Transatlantiques. L’épopée des paquebots de légende (Lyon: Musée de l’imprimerie, 2013).

4 In French, littérature de route.

5 See C. Thurlow and A. Jaworsi, Communicating a Global Reach: Inflight Magazines as a Globalizing Genre in Tourism, Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7/4 (2003), 579-606; and J. Small, C. Harris and E. Wilson, A Critical Discourse Analysis of In-Flight Magazine Advertisements: The “Social Sorting” of Airline Travellers?, Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 6/1 (2008), 17-38.

6 The digital collection is available on Gallica [Bibliothèque nationale de France’s online database], but incomplete:, accessed 28 Nov. 2018 Yet we can get a great portrait of its content and evolution through time. However, it is difficult to provide bibliographical references for certain issues that are not numbered: the most common practice of the revue is to provide the publication’s season (spring, autumn…) followed by the year.

7 “… la corrélation essentielle des rapports spatio-temporels”. See M. Bakhtine, Esthétique et théorie du roman (Paris: Gallimard, 1978), 237.

8 Carte itinéraire”. Ancestor of the current screens diffusing the journey’s map and the airplane’s progression, it consists in a small folded cardboard representing the aircraft’s itinerary. “Of course, before falling asleep, I’ve taken a look at the ‘Paris-Madrid-Casablanca itinerary map’ and I know where I am, at every moment”, writes for example Simon Arbellot in L’apéritif à Casa, Air France Revue, spring (1952), 26. [“J’ai bien entendu, avant de m’endormir, jeté un coup d’œil sur la Carte itinéraire Paris-Madrid-Casablanca et je sais où je suis, à chaque instant”].

9 Studies on the genre of the revue are abundant: we will only refer here to the synthesis article of T. Loué, ‘La revue’, in D. Kalifa, P. Régnier, M.-È. Thérenty and A. Vaillant (eds.), La civilisation du journal. Histoire littéraire et culturelle de la presse française au xixe siècle (Paris: Nouveau Monde, 2011), 333-357, and to É. Stead et H. Védrine (eds.), L’Europe des revues (1880-1920) (Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2008).

10 Journalist, illustrator and typographer (1894-1874); Maximilien Vox is the pseudonym of Samuel William Théodore Monod.

11 “… une vision aérienne du monde qui s’étend à tous les problèmes, et dont les constructeurs d’Air France Revue n’auront souhaité que d’être les fidèles interprètes”.

12 We noted the names of seven of them in the issues from the 1950s: Maurice Genevois, Édouard Herriot, Jean Cocteau, Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, Louis de Broglie, André Chamson and Louis Armand.

13 See, for instance, Cinq semaines en ballon, Air France Revue, spring (1950), 66-72.

14 F. Autrand, Idées dans l’air, Air France Revue, 4 (1967), 45-47.

15 See Air France Magazine, 198/October (2013), 12.

16Un voyage immobile”.

17Voyage autour de ma chambre”.

18 See for instance J.-J. Brissac, L’Afrique à Paris. Voyage sans billet’, Air France Revue, winter (1949), 11. The narrator is addressing a friend that he just encountered and who is going to guide him through the African Paris: “ I see that your own mode is to do as Maurice Renard, a motionless journey, or even better, as Xavier de Maistre, a voyage around your room.” [“Je vois que votre mode à vous c’est de faire comme Maurice Renard, un voyage immobile ou mieux encore, comme Xavier de Maistre, un voyage autour de votre chambre.”]

19 Vu d’avion, le paysage cesse d’appartenir au monde des formes apprises pour apparaître dans une dimension neuve de la conscience. Il prend alors une beauté de peinture abstraite à laquelle l’œil doit se faire avant de la percevoir.

20Après la distance, la géométrie’. Air France Revue, 8/winter (1936), 1.

21un basculement du regard”. See T. Gervais, Un basculement du regard. Les débuts de la photographie aérienne, 1855-1914, Études photographiques [online journal], 9/May (2001),, accessed 20 Jan. 2018.

22Des modes aériennes, Air France Revue, summer (1936), 19-20.

23 See Air France Revue, summer (1948), 5 (photography by Robert Doisneau), 15 (Willy Ronis) and 19 (Willy Ronis).

24 See Air France Revue, spring (1952), series of photographs from page 52.

25Plaisirs de voyager…, Air France Revue, spring (1951), 81.

26 ‘Les passagers arrivent…, Air France Revue, summer (1948), 130: Une gare, Air France Revue, spring (1950), 93.

27 Certes, on se croirait plutôt chez un grand couturier ou un grand parfumeur, que dans une gare”. Ibid.

28La perfection du confort”. Title of an article from Air France Revue, summer (1948), 132.

29Matériel transatlantique, 7 (1936), 15-16; Valeur des équipages, summer (1948), 126-127; Un atelier, spring (1950), 93-94.

30 Y. de Bois-Juzan, Atlantique sud 1936, Air France Revue, 5 (1936), 13-14.

31Air France abolit les servitudes du temps et de l’espace supprime la hâte abrège l’absence”. Air France Revue, summer (1948), 134.

32 Air France vend du temps”. Ibid., 122.

33 “… je suis en train de calculer combien j’ai perdu de temps – et, par conséquent, d’argent – en restant jusqu’ici dans l’ignorance de l’existence des services aériens”.

34 “… plein d’industriels qui font la ligne comme on prend le métro”. Air France Revue, 3 (1935), 10.

35 “… d’accord, dans deux heures je serai à Londres”. Air France Revue, 4 (1935), 9. Other documents corroborate the importance of this figure of the industrialist to be convinced. See for example J. Romeyer, L’aviation civile française (Paris: J. de Gigord, “La France vivante”), 59 and following, where a dialogue stages a narrator and an industrialist.

36 Under a still very schematic form, without colors and destinations names: see Air France dans tous les ciels…, Air France Revue, spring (1950), 88.

37 To the exception, however, of the arrival of the supersonic project Concorde, evoked in the revue from the end of the 1960s: see for example Air France Revue, 4 (1967), 49-50.

38 Transport de masse”, an expression used in the spring of 1959, p. 58: the journalist Georges Février titles his article ‘1952: l’année “un” du transport de masse’.

39Les sièges sont plus petits, il n’y a plus d’orchidées ni de champagne, mais… les prix des billets sont considérablement réduits”.

40Faisceaux des lignes”.

41 See Le faisceau des lignes Europe-Amérique du Nord d’Air France, Air France Revue, 38 (1968), 24.

42 See [online], accessed 28 Nov. 2018.

43L’écume des jours”.

44 See De l’informatique à la cybernétique, Air Revue, 38 (1968), 27-30 and 37-38.

45 G. Pinson, L’imaginaire médiatique. Histoire et fiction du journal au xixe siècle (Paris: Garnier, 2012).

46 See G. Feyel, Naissance, constitution progressive et épanouissement d’un genre de presse aux limites floues: le magazine, Réseaux, 105 (2001), 19-51.

47 A. d’Unienville, En vol. Journal d’une hôtesse de l’air (Paris: Albin Michel, 1949).

Pour citer ce document

Guillaume Pinson, «Milestones in the History of “Aerial Literature”: the Case of Air France Revue (1930-1970)», Nacelles [En ligne], La presse et la conquête de l’air. Histoires, imaginaires, poétiques, Dossier thématique / Thematic Section, mis à jour le : 21/02/2019, URL :

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Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada