Marrakech to Malta













I was up and at the airport on time. I saw I had a flat nosewheel. Everything was fine yesterday, the plane hasn’t moved, so????? I pump some air into it with my hand pump, some of it seems to stay, and I can’t find a leak. I consider my options. I guess I’ll go.

Taxi out for takeoff at 6:20, late. Departure is uneventful, though it is pitch black. I paid a fee to have the airport lit, I guess the 757 that took off just before me got a lucky break. A little later, I’m climbing for 140 (I filed 130), heading for the northern coast of Africa. A beautiful sunrise over the Sahara greets me, then I’m passing Cherif El Idrissi on the Moroccan coast. I can see as far as Gibralter, 100 miles west.









I am rerouted unfavorably at first, but then given a series of directs that put a smile on my face. I had to climb 150 to get out of some ice, it’s –12 C here, and it’s a beautiful day to fly the Spanish Riviera. Past Alicante, it’s open water again, Ibiza in the distance, then Mallorca, Menorca pass under me. Over Sardinia I turn southeast, and have a 50 knot direct tailwind, so I am ahead of schedule, averaging 215. Sicily appears on the left, and Tunisia is on the right. I can see Etna in the distance. Over water for a short time and Malta appears, first Gozo, then Malta. I am flying the south coast of Malta, following the cliffs, and see why it has been so difficult to invade Malta. It is a splendid natural fortress, with vertical cliffs rising nearly 1000 feet from the sea.






The flight is an amazing geography and history lesson. I have been in southern Spain before, and get to see the area I then drove through by air. In radio communications, I hear Arabic French English, then Spanish English, the French English, then Maltese English over the radio. Local traffic is handled in the native language, but long distance carriers and the occasional lost Cessna get English. At one point I get my frequency wrong, and when I find someone to talk to again, I got a solid warning from a supervisor. Even then, they are polite and helpful.



I am concerned about being ahead of schedule for my reserved landing spot, so call and find out I should be fine. The nose tire is at the front of my mind, I must assume it is flat again. I have left fuel in the baggage and cabin tanks, and used as much as possible from the mains and tips, then start tossing bags back as far as I can. When I am assured of Malta, I place the raft as far back as I can. I want a rear CG for landing, and want to be sure I can clear the runway so I don’t block the Airbus on final. I land long, and have no trouble keeping the nose wheel up, and taxi to a committee of Maltese aviators, who warmly greet me and help secure the plane. Customs and immigration is quick and pleasant, and I am out in the Maltese sunshine well before I had expected to land.






I still can’t believe everything I saw on a single flight in my little plane. This was a big worry leg for me, the weather could have been quite an issue. I am given not just good, but perfect conditions for the trip, which is the farthest north I will go, roughly even with New York. I’ve been down to 5 degrees latitude, but haven’t crossed the equator yet. I am now 7 hours ahead, or almost 1/3 way, around.

Malta is incredibly beautiful, from the air and on the ground, and the people here have given me a welcome to remember forever.




Mark Laferla Senior, Junior and Me on send off from Malta


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Last Updated: January 4, 2006