The great mechanical heron, the flagship piece of the future Tree, has taken flight

It had already been visible in spare parts on the forecourt of the Machines for a few months. This Tuesday noon, in Nantes, the great heron of the Tree project of the same name finally unfolded its wings, for a spectacular first flight, under the benevolent gaze of the Elephant. The mechanical bird first opened its eyes, its beak too, before soaring for a few minutes in the air, very gracefully despite its thirty tons. A successful first test, congratulate the two creators of the company La Machine, who speak of a “very important” moment.

“This heron is a great technical story, reports François Delarozière, obviously present for the event, with Pierre Oréfice. The object is not that big, which made it complicated for it to be so mobile. We also needed it to be weather resistant, as it will be at the top of the tree and peak up to 45 meters high. In addition to wood and metal, carbon fiber was chosen to make its impressive braided wings, spanning 16 meters. A technique designed especially for the bird, inspired by aeronautics.

“Absolutely unique object”

The Heron Tree project, which should come out of the ground by 2027 in the Misery quarry for a budget of 52 million euros, provides that around twenty passengers will be able to settle in its baskets, made of wicker . But before that, we will have to continue the tests on the volatile and continue the construction of the other elements of the structure. After several versions of the project, we learned this afternoon that there will ultimately be no other heron to be made: this one will perform circular tricks while the second will in fact be the bird already visible in the gallery, explained François Delarozière. He will be positioned at his side but will not take on an audience.

Another element and not the least, it is also necessary that Nantes Métropole definitively adopts the public commission of the work, a decisive vote however postponed for six months already. And not sure, once again, that it is on the agenda for the June council, because of the legal doubts that persist, and the discussions that drag on with the prefecture. “There are still a few legal and contractual questions before embarking on the construction of this absolutely unique object”, rejoiced François Delarozière. “Do we want to stop any opening, any travel?, he wondered, responding to the controversies around the construction of the tree. I want a living city. »

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