Aviation has been present in Alicante for many years, as early as 1911 the Valencia – Alicante air raid brought the newly invented means of transport to our city.
In 1919 a French campaign, The Society of the Latécoere Lines, thought that Alicante was the ideal layover point in their air post routes from France. Transporting post was the first use that was given to aviation, for example Charles Lindberg worked transporting post for the United States.
After a lot of looking they found some land where there was a shooting range, that today is the University of Alicante and surroundings, and there the Rabasa Aerodrome was created.The land was leased in July 1919 by the creator of the campaign, the French man Pierre George Latecoére, one part of 300 000 square meters to the National Shooting Society and the other part of 300 000 square meters to a private owner D.Jose Laporta, who gave a very economical price for the times, trying to promote an aero connexion with Alicante. The lease was for 5 years and they stayed another 5 years after that. The aerodrome was between Alicante and San Vicente del Raspeig, belonging to this municipality which later was where the control tower and the terminal building were built. Rabasa or Rabassa is the name of the former land where all this happened.
And planes started to arrive. They took off from Toulouse in France heading for Barcelona and continued to Africa. Regular routes were formed to Casablanca, Oran and Tanger.
In 1927 the Society of Latécoère lines was renamed Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, which would later be the germ of the current Air France, the flights were much longer since they reached South America and they did so in larger planes so they had to look for a Longer runway than Rabasa, they found it in what is now the current Alicante-Elche airport, which this company also founded. One of the best known Aeropostale pilots of that time was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who later wrote the book “The Little Prince”, in another of his books entitled “Night Flight”, the great writer and pilot wonderfully describes what it was Flying through the Andes mountain range, from Natal in Brazil to Chile and at night, really what these people did with the planes of that time is absolutely incredible, if you like aviation you will enjoy reading that book.
Although planes didn’t stop flying to Rabasa. As Aéropostale left it, was then used by the military, taking over other pieces of land and surrounding areas to make its facilities bigger. The spanish civil war started and the government transported the aeronautic business “Talleres Loring” from Madrid , which was then called SAF-1 (Aviation service and production).
Later on they also brought the factory La Hispano from Guardalajara which they called SAF-5 and then they merged both to form SAF-15. In these facilities they would make various model planes like Russian I-15 nicknamed “Chato”, I-16 nicknamed “Mosca” type 10, Fokker C.X and Fokker D.XXI. When the war ended this company went back to Madrid and changed its name to AISA (Aeronautical Industria S.A.) who started producing excellent trucks.
The republicans also took one of the engine workshops to Elche and they called it SAF-4. In Sax they moved another workshop that was dedicated to propeller, wheels and instrument production and repairs. In Archena they opened a workshop that build Russian planes.
After the war in October 1939, with the creation of the air force, Rabasa was integrated into a air base in the Levante Air Region, where the 32 assault regiment was established which later would be the 32 Aviation Regiment which had Polikarpov I-15 “Chatos”. In March 1953, Rabasa air base was equipped with transport planes such as CASA C-352 L (Junkers 52) and training planes like CASA C-131 (bucker 131 “Jungmann”), as well as Polikarpov I-15 “Chatos”.
The years went by and the military base became abandoned because of its lack of strategic importance but its facilities were still used as a civil aerodrome. In 1949, the Aviation and Commerce Company S.A., Aviaco, established routes from Madrid to Alicante and the Canary Islands. Their planes filled the Rabasa aerodrome runways with more and more transit of passengers and goods. The terminal was situated in what is today the outlet shopping centre and had great animation. There was a small entrance road surrounded by pine trees in front of what today is Santa Isabel Neighbourhood and the terminal had a beautiful terrace and a bar inside so people could wait comfortably for their flights or simply have a coffee while enjoying looking at the planes.
Later on in 1964, Iberia started operating in the aerodrome with magnificent planes like Douglas DC3, planes that nowadays are still in use which proves their quality, and the now unused Spantax.
In the year 1960, part of the old military facilities were transferred to the location of the CEU University Studies Center, which years later would give rise to the current University of Alicante, control tower, take-off runway and hangar continued to have an aeronautical use.
The air traffic in Alicante was increasing and Rabasa could not absorb it, in addition the city had been growing around the aerodrome which made it impractical and even dangerous for large planes, he even considered demolishing the Church of the Los Angeles neighborhood and Cut other buildings to improve the approach of the planes, which caused a logical rejection of the neighborhood, all this meant that in the end the national and international flights moved to the current location near the El Altet district of Elche where a magnificent asphalt runway was built. replacing that of Rabasa that was always land.
And now we get to the interesting part, in 1964, a group of people from Alicante who loved aviation joined together to form a “Flight club”, the seed of what later would be Alicante Real Aeroclub and that were based in the facilities of the old air military base of Rabasa: landing strip, Control tower and the hangar where given over for this use by the government because of the loss of commercial and military use.
Some of the funders of the club where Don Antonio Valdelomar De La Vega who was the only person in those times who was a pilot and had just arrived in Alicante to work as a technical director for the Renault dealer. He came from a family who loved aviation and his dad, Don Julio Valdelomar Scholtz, had been a student and friend of the Frenchman Louis Bleriot, also accompanied, among others, by the industry with Don Juan Martinez Campos and Don Rafael Oliva Cudos who came up with the administrative “infrastructure” needed, calling one of the employees of his company “Almendrera Alicantina”. So Tomas could do the accounts for the club and formalities to build the aeronautical society and collect fees from the members, they looked for friends to turn into founding partners who paid a starting fee of 100 pesetas. The Campaign to attract members was very popular in Alicante and thanks to all this effort the Alicante Real Aeroclub was born.
They started off with a Jodel 1190 made of wood and fabric, built in Santander by the company Aerodifusion with a French licence. Later on they incorporated different models such as AISA I-11B which was made in Spain and some AISA I-115 also nationally produced, given away by the Air Force and the club integrated into Spain Real Aeroclub.
The flights continued and Alicante Real Aeroclub had lots of activity in Rabasa with lots of pilots and planes in their possession. Not only was the aeronautical side going well, The cafe was a well visited place with the University students of the newly built CEU. Even local handball teams played Obras del Puerto-Calpisa in the facilities of the Aeroclub.
Alicante Real Aeroclub had a section of specific aeromodelling as well as collaborating with the school that was on that street, Calderon of Alicante that was directed with great success by Don Jose Mestre Mestre. One of the areas furthest away from the runways is used for this sport/science. There, the highest level of international competitions are held where even representatives of the hermetic soviet bloc visited. Close to where the shopping centre is, there was a circular asphalt runway where all types of competitions were held. In Rabasa we also saw the first remote control planes.
But in 1978, the state decided to give the land, on which the aeroclub was built, back to its original owners as it lost its military condition. The Alicante Real Aeroclub found itself in a sticky position, or they had to find an alternative or It was condemned to disappear. In November that year the flights stopped.
The initiative of 15 industrialists that were part of the society to acquire new land for the aeroclub, were the ones that made it possible to create the current aerodrome in Mutxamel, which started up in 1981. A dirt track runway was built to start with that later on was tar macced and made bigger to reach currently 1000 meters long and 23 meters wide.Currently its an uncontrolled aerodrome which only does VFR operations.
Initially the runways were dirt tracks as they started before and services were limited but little by little and with a lot of effort the facilities that we have now were built such as the office, reception, toilets, pilot training rooms and the cafe which shelter all the aviation lovers and their families, facilities paid for only by the members of the aeroclub.
Mutxamel Aerodrome is situated about fifteen or twenty minutes away from the centre of Alicante by car. Its perfect position situates it very close by car to touristic areas like Altea (40´), Benidorm (35´), Calpe (45´) Denia (60´) or Torrevieja (60´).
It is surrounded by a great number of magnificent golf courses, the hotels are very good quality and very close to the beaches which are some of the best in the world with numerous blue flags which show their great quality and with water at ideal temperatures to bathe. You can also enjoy excellent gastronomy from Alicante with various restaurants with Michelin stars.
The location of the aerodrome is absolutely privileged and it is situated in a first class touristic destination.
Currently the Real Aeroclub flies with the same enthusiasm as when it was founded, but the planes have changed. Now they are modern machines with the most advanced Electronic machines instead of those ancient wooden machines covered in fabric. The people that pilot them have the same spirit that the founders had to create the club in 1964 which explains why it has been placed in the Spanish General and Sporting Aviation. If your dream is aviation, if you want to be a pilot, if this world is your passion, come and see us.
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