Pilots take on 3,000-mile Euro tour to attend air rally in Malta

From left - Stuart Belding, Simon Cooke, Ricky Boor and Stephen Culpin ANL-160718-110340001
From left - Stuart Belding, Simon Cooke, Ricky Boor and Stephen Culpin ANL-160718-110340001

The group left Fenland Airfield, where they are all club members, at 6am in cool conditions for the 1,650-mile outbound trip, but bad weather forced them to re-route to Belgium instead of France for their first scheduled stop.

Low cloud caused more delays before they were able to fly on to Saarbrucken, in Germany, before a stopover in Friedrichshafen, located at the base of the Alps.

Stuart Belding (right) and Simon Cooke took one of the planes 3,000 miles across Europe. ANL-160718-110021001

Stuart Belding (right) and Simon Cooke took one of the planes 3,000 miles across Europe. ANL-160718-110021001

Day two brought high pressure and the perfect conditions for flying over the mountain rage.

“Even at 10,000ft there will still peaks with snow on top,” recalls Stuart.

“After negotiating the Brenner Pass which is quite narrow, we landed in Bolzano, Italy, where we sampled our first taste of Italian bureaucracy – they just seem to be obsessed with paperwork and form filling.

“Then it was up to Venice. It was on this leg the Alps finished – they just fall away, and then there’s nothing. It becomes flat like the Fens again, except that it is 36 degrees!”

Day three included their first water crossing – 40 minutes over the Adriatic Sea to Pula, in Croatia, before heading on to Brac. Further stops included Salerno, on the Italian Amalfi coast and Palermo, in Sicily, before the group made it to Malta and their grand entrance to the rally over the lighthouse at Gozo.