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Euroavia, my love.

diverse




Euroavia, my love.


It was 1990. Freedom was sweeping across Europe and the Cold War was all but over. True, it took a little more time and one last fright from the big bad bear to the north to bid its final farewell, but eventually there was a huge sigh of relief from all our countries who had been for so long under the evil communist rule.





Well, now that we woke up to life and freedom, we rubbed our eyes and started to look around to a world we sort of knew existed, but had little or no clue about. We started reading. We started travelling. We started brow. hand on a sec! This is early '90s, right? So. even if it may shock the ones of you who were not born but downloaded, there was no internet. There was no email. And please sit down: there were no GSMs! SMS was unknown as a word. Ryanair was a tiny, nearly bankrupt Irish carrier that nobody gave a toss about, they were dying soon anyway. Only national carriers could offer a decent schedule. Not decent prices, of course. Oh, and in case I forgot: prices were not in 11511x2310l euros. They were mostly in dollars. US dollars. Loads of them, particularly for a student. Which is what I was back then, just a student.


With planes out of the way, hijacking not so much in fashion back then, hitch-hiking kinda risky. we were left with walking and trains. So when the need to reach Andorra came, we jumped on the train and off we went from Bucharest all the way to Toulouse (as Andorra is somehow short of a railway system). We went through a different geography: we crossed Yugoslavia. On the way back we exited the EU when crossing from Germany to Austria. We then passed through Prague, capital of Czechoslovakia. A whole different continent.


Anyway, back to our journey. I'll spare you the spicy details of a bunch of students in their early 20s crossing Europe by train and will get straight to our interim destination, Toulouse. And more importantly, ENSAE, a.k.a. Sup'Aero. I trust there's no need to spell that out.


I must express my love for those guys and gals in Sup'Aero who welcomed us. Imagine a couple of unshaved, tired, sleep-deprived and smelling guys who knock at your door at 7am saying that they just arrived from Romania, on their way to Andorra and only want to establish a contact. I think my first impulse would've been to search for some spare change in my pockets. Well, our French colleagues showed all their hospitality and then introduced us to some of their teachers, laboratories, campus and, crucially, the Euroavia office. Yes, this was truly first contact. Ok, the fact that we were still high in the news and had a Prime-Minister who spent a few years in that school was no trivial thing. The rest is history.


Hm, not really. Once back home (Andorra? wonderful at Christmas time, the congress a true success, the red-head, green-eyed Swiss was. oops, sorry, that's more information than you need). So, once back home I started spreading the news about this fantastic place named Toulouse, the school, and about what looked like the answer to all our needs: a wonderful student organisation, more European than anything else, more aviation than we imagined, strong and attractive. in one word: Euroavia.


Wow! We HAD to be part of that. We barely had a telephone, we barely knew how to use a fax machine, we only knew of the existence of PCs. but had no doubt that we belonged to that family, we belonged with Euroavia.




With the continuous help of our French friends we got the application procedure. This was my first contact with a sample of European bureaucracy. We thought we'd apply and then we'd be in. Not so quick! Ok then, we'll start small, local. They can't prevent us from this, can they? No, but neither can we call ourselves Euroavia Bucharest. Fair enough. We decided on a completely different name that couldn't in any way be linked with a registered name. So we founded AVIA. No, it's not derived from Euroavia, whatever you may think. It stands for "Asociatia Viitorilor Ingineri de Aviatie" (the Association of Future Aviation Engineers), which is what we all were, weren't we?


We had our first visit. Wow! What an excitement! Three of our French colleagues paid us a short visit and I remember how impressed they were with our beer. Which at the time was mostly water, but they thought it was a student's beer: cheap, light, tasty. They were French what did they know about beer? We didn't dare to give them wine though.


I wrote the first local report for the Euroavia Magazine. Ok, maybe our Dutch colleagues thought that was against the rules (we weren't members yet). But for everyone around me that local report became a guiding rod: they accepted us! We were on the right track to becoming part of the family!


We had our first fly-in, which happened to be organised by Sup'Aero! Since they had taken the trouble to know us, they also knew that our limitless enthusiasm was only matched by our desperate lack of money. So we were invited to join for free. Thank you my friends. You made our dreams come true. Since this was for free (for us, not for them), we kept it small: five. Sorry guys, I realise this might've been a tad over the top, but we needed many eyes and ears to not miss a thing. We knew we belonged to Europe and to this family the evening of the great official dinner, when we had their traditional dish: cassoulet. Well, one of our most traditional dishes exactly that, less the name! So yea, we were alike!


We finally applied for membership. As we still couldn't afford to pay the membership or even the participation to the next EMEAC, again our French friends came to rescue: they paid it all. We managed to get some free tickets from our airline, Tarom, then off to Dresden, Germany. By now we had become more visible (in between we organised a fly-in ourselves, we went to another one or two) so it looked ok to apply, even if rightfully worried about our finances, our Dutch colleagues were afraid of us prematurely joining in. This is how I learned about European variety: some are generous, some are down-to-earth, and others just need some help.


However, against all odds, we were in! Yes, we were now officially Euroavia Bucharest. Thank you my friends. Thanks to all my colleagues who worked hard to make this happened. Thanks to our school who gave us support in this. Thanks to Tarom who gave us a few tickets to travel for free, even if we did not display long legs and lavish blond hair. Thanks to our French brothers and sisters, who spared no effort or money to get us in, when nobody knew what we were worth. And last but not least, thank you Euroavia for making the best of my student years.



Radu CIOPONEA,

Founding president of Euroavia Bucharest










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