Air Rally History

The annual Air Rally is organised by a corps of enthusiastic Aero Club members.  The first embryo of an Air Rally was in 1970 when the Guernsey Aero Club was located at the eastern end of the airport; in that year it was basically a fly-in with aircraft from the other Channel Islands, UK, Laval-sur-Vologne and Lessay in France.

The following year, 1971, was the first formal event similar in format to what is used today, on average over the years between 50 and 80 aircraft arrive over the weekend bringing up to 150 rallyists.  The 10th anniversary was celebrated with nearly 100 aircraft.  The Air Rally offers the opportunity participate in a navigational competition over France; this used to take place on the Friday with the option of a night stop in France but in recent years it is flown from and to the island on the Saturday with some 19 trophies being awarded over the weekend.

Following the move to the Club’s present location in 1981, with its enlarged facilities and the adjacent hangar provided for a better organised event the highlight of the weekend is the Hangar Ball Extravaganza.  The current format is well proven although there is some fine tuning year on year with a different themes and attractions.

The Aero Club has faced problems in the last couple of  years with parking of the aircraft due to the development of the new airport terminal taking away 50% of the grass parking area but with very careful planning and setting out of the remaining grass area all the Air Rally aircraft can be accommodated together with a dozen or so visiting aircraft.

In the late 1970’s the Air Rally included air racing around the island. This was extremely successful for many years until the authorities felt unable to accommodate airfield closures with the increasing commercial movements.  Participants fly in to Guernsey from all over Europe, many from the UK but also Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Benelux countries with several coming from as far afield as Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Over the years there have been a huge variety of aircraft participating.  This has included canvas-covered vintage and classic aircraft, right through to the modern factory produced, sophisticated, all metal single and twin engine aircraft.

In more recent years entrants include a much larger quantity of composite carbon fibre constructed home built aircraft.  Over the years we have also had entries of large aircraft which has included the de Havilland Heron, Pembroke,  Pilatus PC12, An2 and a variety of aerobatic aircraft. Although not encouraged, a small variety of jet aircraft have also participated including the well known Jet Provost and Strike Master and for several years we were lucky to have the Royal Navy in attendance with an air-sea rescue Sea King but in the last few years because of Government cutbacks this has not been possible.

The rally continues to go from strength to strength not only due to the enthusiasm of Aero Club members but also because of the helpfulness of air traffic control and the airport authorities.  Hopefully it will continue for many years to come as possibly the only true Air Rally  having a navigational competition in the UK.

Unfortunately due COVID restrictions we were not able to hold the Air Rally during 2020 & 2021.

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