Guernsey Press

Aircraft touchdown in island for 50th air rally

AIRCRAFT have been arriving for the 50th Guernsey Aero Club Air Rally, which is taking place this weekend.

Pilot James Brown with his Hurricane single-seat fighter aircraft at the Guernsey Aero Club. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33309013)

Among the pilots was one who is thought to hold the record for the most Guernsey Air Rallies attended – 38 out of 50.

Adrian Chipp owns a farm at Pirton in Hertfordshire, which has a grass landing strip from where he flies his Cessna 172.

‘I learned to fly because I couldn’t get off my farm,’ he said.

‘I like to come to the Guernsey and Alderney events. It’s the friendship. And there are no rallies in the UK.’

He had won one of the Guernsey events in his multiple visits and said he enjoyed the basic nature of the flying. ‘I like to fly these rallies with a pencil and a rubber and no gizmos. There’s a challenge to it as well as the chance to meet up with old friends.

‘The other thing about coming to Guernsey is we don’t have to pay tax on the fuel we pay for in Gloucestershire.’

While Mr Chipp was an old-hand at the event, Aly Mawji was making his first visit, but he was likely to be taking a trophy away with him having flown the 1,300km or so from Lisbon, making his the furthest ‘home base’.

He said he had heard about the event from his brother-in-law who was flying in with his 92-year-old father-in-law.

‘When he told me they were going to come and do this, I said I’d like to join them,’ said Mr Mawji.

He earned his pilot’s licence about five years ago and flies a Mooney M20 which he now owns outright, having previously co-owned it with his brother-in-law.

Having never been to this rally or the island before, he was full of praise for the event.

‘The welcome with which we have been received from the moment we landed has been second to none,’ he said.

‘To me this is the true spirit of camaraderie in the aviation world. It’s heart warming to be here and meet interesting people and other aviators. I can say with certainty that I will try to make this one again.’

De Havilland DH-89A Domine/Dragon Rapide arriving at Guernsey Airport for this year's Air Rally. (Picture by Rob Le Page)

Among the oldest aircraft taking part this weekend is a De Havilland DH-89A Domine/Dragon Rapide, which is making a four-day stop in the island.

The 79-year-old aircraft is the oldest passenger-carrying airliner in the UK and its last recorded visit to the island was 3 August 1966.

As well as a visit from the De Havilland about 25 rally attendees from the UK and further afield are expected to participate in the air rally.

Guernsey Aero Club committee member Rob Le Page said there were various competitions taking place today.

‘It all leads up to the Hangar Extravaganza on the Saturday night,’ said Mr Le Page.

‘The hangar will be cleared out and carpeted ready for the ball. We are expecting 200 to 250 people for the ball.’