For more information about the history of the area have a look at
http://www.malagainformation.com/history.html but Im going to talk a little about flying there.
It is easy to get blasé about flying to Malaga as its a route that I fly often, but the last hour of the two-and-a-half hour flight is actually one of the most interesting approaches that I am lucky enough to fly.
The first view of Spain you get as you leave the Bay of Biscay behind you is the Cantabrian Mountains as you cross the coast at Santander. Quite spectacular at this time of year with the first snow starting to settle (this photo is looking West towards Gijón)
The high ground along the North Coast soon becomes flatter as you approach Madrid and although there is a ridge to the East of the capital city, it was (unusually!) foggy this morning and I didn't get a decent photo. South of Madrid, aircraft are sent to the 'MAR' radio beacon (somewhere near Osuna) to line up with the runway, and you can see the ground start to get higher as you approach the south coast. On my first flight here, I was surprised at just how mountainous the area is, but the Sierra Nevada are just East of Malaga, and the highest peak, Mulhacén, reaches 11,400 feet.
On a clear day (today was a bit hazy) you can see beyond Spain and the Mediterranean and catch a glimpse of the Atlas mountains in North Africa. (Must get a better camera for this...)
North West of Malaga as you join the ILS (Instrument Landing System) that lines you up with the runway you fly over large reservoirs that supply the area with fresh water. Over the last 5 or 6 years these have been slowly drying up, so it's nice to see them full again this winter.
(yes, the bonfire smoke (on the right of the picture above) is the same plume in both pictures.)
The line of the runway takes you over the lowest part of the high ground. The descent is slightly steeper than usual and has specific height and distance checks to keep you clear of the various ridges, which are all now equipped with wind farms!
The airport is situated in the centre of the low, flat ground and surrounded on three sides by high ground, it's not as extreme as somewhere like Innsbruck or Chambery, but it's quite stunning so if you fly there any time soon, do take the time to look out of the window!
Being in a valley like this means that the prevailing wind is heavily dependant on time of day. In the morning the warmer air is over the sea, which rises and draws air down the valley- so the earlier you get there, the more likely you are to use the North Westerly runway. As we arrived this morning the land was warming up and reversing the air flow, so we were able to go straight in from MAR to land in a South Easterly direction- which can cut up to 10 minutes off a flight time.
Directly ahead here you can see the main runway and taxiway, to the left of that, the new runway being built which should be ready for next summer.
Welcome to Malaga- I can recommend a great Kareoke bar, but that's quite another story!
- Blogged from my iPad