It is only one hundred years since the first flight landed at what would become Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport. Pierre Latecoere was looking for locations for aerodromes in Spain to establish a commercial airline to link France with its colonies in Africa. On the 9th March 1919, his Salmson 2A plane touched down on land known as El Rompedizo.
On the 1st September 1919, Didier Daurat, who was to become the manager of Málaga aerodrome, began scheduled flights between Toulouse, Barcelona, Alicante, Málaga, Tangiers and Casablanca.
In 1937 the aerodrome became an airbase for Air Force crew members with an air station’s office. In 1946 the airport was opened for domestic and international traffic and classified as a customs post. All passenger services were conducted in the air station until the first passenger station opened in 1948.
The passenger station, looking suspiciously like a finca, is the centre of the airport museum. It remained in use until 1968. Until 1965 the airport was known as ‘El Rompedizo’ when the name was changed to Málaga Airport. The name was changed again in 2011 when it became Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport.
The old passenger station has been kept as was. On entering the building, you are confronted by the varnished wood check-in desk. Nostalgic displays include the menus from which you could choose your lunch or dinner. In 1930 it was possible to have a silver service, three-course meal with wine, brandy and cigars. Mind you, that was the peak, airline meals have gone downhill steadily since then. There are some lovely examples of posters extolling the comfort of various aircraft and why you should choose that airline for your journey. Perfect families, perfectly coiffed, excitedly looking from the panoramic window at some exotic destination. It was all so naïve. In reality, the standard passenger aircraft before about 1960 rattled, banged, creaked and swooped alarmingly in any turbulence. I know because I have flown in some of them. The most important piece of kit was the ‘barf bag’. Even as late as the 1980’s the first officer of your Dan Air flight received a cheer and round of applause after a successful landing. It was all a big adventure.
Anyhow, back to the museum. You can arrange to fly a simulator and discover just how adventurous those passengers were allowing themselves to be carried in a late 1960’s Boeing 737.
Visit the original control tower and look at the old flight signalling system. Remind youngsters that this is all pre-computer age. In the background, you can hear a radio with a flight controller talking to a pilot. Before radio, communication between ground and air was conducted in morse code. You can try your hand at morse at the museum. This is just one of several hands-on displays that entertain and educate people of all ages.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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