Adrienne Bolland

The aviatrix Adrienne Bolland continues her story.

As I’ve finished my cigarette, I want to get rid of this weirdo as fast as possible, and then I think:  “Yes, but how can such an ignorant girl know that my cuckoo can only go to 18,000 feet?…”

I therefore continue to observe her.  She is standing very straight and now raises her right index, in a rather infantile gesture, as if to warn me:

“Above all, you mustn’t turn to the right.  You must go to the left.  You will see a mountain which has the form of the back of a fallen chair…”

When she has finished her long-winded speech, she stays there, looking at me with a sort of imploring look, and without adding a single word, she turns on her heel and disappears.

I leave the same day on a long train trip, for Buenos Aires is 1,200 kilometres from Mendoza.

The only certitude that I have while taking off in the early morning, two days later, from the Las Tamarindos airfield, is that I will never make it!…

Very quickly, I am squeezed up against the fantastic rocky fortress, and have inhabitual difficulty in gaining altitude.  Suddenly I see a great lake in front of me.  I tell myself:

“It’s magnificent!  It glitters in the sun like an open oyster…”

At this involuntarily pronounced word, it all comes back…  The visit of the “prophetess” which I had completely forgotten, and all the details of the “oracle”.

I carefully inspect the topography.  In front of me there is an enormous pyramid whose peak is hidden by the clouds.  It’s certainly over 5,000 metres.  To the right, the valley gently splits in two and appears to open.  To the left, however, the mountain rises, layer upon layer, interspersed with steep peaks.  Faraway, at the bottom, there’s a high rocky wall which, if you use a bit of imagination, could in fact pass for the back of a fallen chair.

I make a wide arc but, very quickly, the moment arrives when I have to choose.  I still ask myself today what made me decide to turn left!…

At the time, I think:

“All because of a sorcerer’s apprentice, I am very certainly going to die in Argentina…  or perhaps, if I’m lucky, in Chile!”

This makes me laugh against my will, but soon fear returns, with terrible cold.  For three long hours I continue to climb, metre by metre, shivering in my pyjama and my cotton jump-suit.  My means had not permitted me to equip myself appropriately and my hands are completely frozen, in spite of the greased paper I’d wrapped them in.  Of course, I don’t have an oxygen mask and my body itself is beginning to freeze under the thin mattress of newspaper I’d covered it with.  And then suddenly, in an opening in the mist, the famous Christ, not the slightest details of which can I see.  It is at 4,100 metres, my altimeter marks almost 4,200.  I skim the crocuses, battling against contrary winds…

Suddenly, I see a wide river which flows in the direction I’m going…  “That’s a bit of luck!”  I tell myself…  Immediately after, the plain, an immense plain and, at the end, almost straight in front of me, a big town…  Just in time:  blood is flowing from my nose and ears because of the sudden fall in altitude, my body is a block of ice and, my fingers having the suppleness of boot-hooks, I am wondering how I’m going to land without crashing…

I had been told that the aerodrome was seven kilometres from the town.  The time to make a turn and I’m over it.  Little points of light blind me for an instant.  Then I understand.  They are the instruments of a brass band waiting for me on the runway…  I see flags on the ground, the Chilean, the Argentinian, and the tricolour [French flag].  With a stalled propeller, I touch down right in the middle of our colours!  It is called a miracle, as if I do it on purpose!  Then the Chileans attack.  A real frenzy!  They find nothing better to pull me from the cockpit than to cut my belt!  It is true that ice has literally glued me to the seat…

Outside, the first thing I ask for is a mirror.  I must look dreadful!

Instead, I am brought a cup of coffee…  I immediately go to sleep over it or rather in the arms of General Contreras who commands the Santiago flying school.

He also undresses me and puts me to bed.  But, take note!  As a gentleman, he has himself assisted by a captain…  I only learn all this when I wake up!…

***

Once back in Buenos Aires, our heroine wants to find her gifted visitor.  She succeeds quite easily for the lady had followed all the details of the flight and wants to know if she had spoken the truth.  She explains to Adrienne Bolland:

“I belong to a spiritist group, Madame.  We absolutely wanted you to come back safely and…  we wanted you to succeed!…  Therefore, we tried to help you.  The medium was able to make your trip in thought…  But as I was the only one able to speak your language, I was the one designated to pass on the information.”

***

Throughout her whole life, Adrienne Bolland never varied her story.  As well as this, it would be hard to find a woman less interested in parapsychological mysteries, or any others, than she.  To succeed in her brilliant career, she needed to be continually and firmly anchored in reality.  While never doubting the reality of what happened to her, which had absolutely saved her life:  if she had taken the route to the right, the Northern one, which was later localised, she would certainly have run out of carburant or would have died of cold in her aeroplane.  Later on, she didn’t pursue the subject and never had any other contact with the spiritist milieu.  For her, it just happened, and there was nothing more to add.

To be continued.

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