Through Thibaut Calatayud
Did you know that one of the most daring heists of the XXe century had taken place in Toulouse ? It was a Sunday evening in May 1978, in the courtyard of Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space (ISAE-SUPAERO). Here, there is hardly any question of gold bars, diamonds and other jewelry. No, here the stolen good is … a fighter jet. Just that !
They bring a Mirage back to their campus
On this Pentecost Sunday evening, a group of engineering students from INSA Toulouse (National Institute of Applied Sciences) takes advantage of the darkness and the sleep of the guardian to enter SUPAERO. The objective of this night visit? Bring back to their campus the Mirage III which sits in the courtyard.
The landing gear is already out. The “thieves” pull the plane and direct, as best they can, extract it from the enclosure. The aircraft is then towed to the burglars’ lair to be displayed like a catch of war on the campus soccer field.
During its stopover at INSA, the plane was tagged with humorous messages, anti-militarist inscriptions and repainted… in pink!
It all started with a joke
43 years later, this brilliant coup is still the pride of INSA members. “Any good Insaïen who respects himself is convinced of the superiority of our school! », Can we read on a forum of former students of this engineering school.
Thierry, a former student who immortalized the entire operation with his camera, remembers a story “part of a joke”.
“The Canal du Midi, which separates the two campuses, had been emptied to be cleaned. In the middle, we discovered a magnificent motorcycle which, obviously, had been thrown. We saw that so we decided to go get ropes at the climbing club to take it out and retype it “.
Time to make the round trip, another group of SUPAERO students seizes the two-wheeler. “They were removing the motorcycle. We explained to them that we had seen it before and that it was ours. They laughed… So we told them: ‘Since that’s how it is, we’ll steal the Mirage!’. They laughed again, telling us to try ”. Never mind !
“We passed a car coming in the opposite direction …”
Using ropes and the strength of their arms, the students managed to get the plane out of SUPAERO. ” It was dark. It was funny because we passed a car coming in the opposite direction. When she realized what was happening in front of her, she quickly turned around! », Still laughs today the man who passed by INSA.
“We took him across the Canal du Midi, then we arrived at dawn on our campus. This joke took a long time.”
Contrary to some rumors, “There has never been a 2CV” for the aircraft tractor, assures the one who photographed the entire sequence.
SUPAERO has recovered his plane
“The plane stayed for three to four days. Then one day, we were woken up very early by the sound of a tractor. He was in the process of removing the Mirage and bringing it back to SUPAERO, Thierry remembers. The school principal then brought us together in a lecture hall. He explained that he had undertaken to restore the Mirage to his counterpart at SUPAERO ”.
A “cleaning commando” made up of several students from INSA got down to work. “After their passage, there was no longer a cockade!” », Remember the amateur photographer.
“Two years later, during a ministerial visit to SUPAERO, we wondered if there wasn’t some bullshit to be done there… Well, this time, the Mirage was guarded by armed gendarmes! “
Today, the renovated plane is still between the walls of ISAE-SUPAERO, next to the swimming pool. And this time, the wheels are sealed to avoid a remake of that crazy ’70s night.
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