Flying at Axarquía
Axarquía (more properly called Leoni Benabu, but no one ever does) is a dusty little airfield north-east of Málaga city. It’s a rural area with one of my favourite restaurants in the area: Las Cruces. During the week Las Cruces acts as a type of Venta, offering what I like to refer to as “Spanish fast food” with a set menu that the waiter rattles off. There are always three starters and three main dishes — you pick one from each category and choose a drink: water, beer or red wine. Because there are so few dishes, your food arrives in minutes. I have seen them deal with difficult tourists who want to personalise their dish: “Can I have chips with that? Substitute the vegetables for some salad, please!” I always want to cringe but the waiters take it with good grace and comply when they can . The place is full of farm workers and truck drivers from miles around, happy to receive a quick and hearty meal. The waiter then reappears with a cafe sólo and takes your money: as it is a set price per person, there’s no need to write anything down. On Sunday, the scene changes to a huge barbecue with a full menu. Lamb chops, slices of pork loin, beef entrecote. Grilled peppers, Grilled cheese, Grilled bread rubbed with tomato and olive oil. If they can grill it, they will.
But I digress…
We went to Axarquía and I took the plane out for a spin. I immediately flashed back to my lessons, Tom’s voice reminding me that it was inconsiderate to fly over the villages and that I should get just a little bit higher before turning towards the hills for the crosswind leg. All this time I’ve been fretting about Axarquía, I’d ignored the obvious advantage:
I learned to fly there.
I spent 50 hours flying into and out of that airfield – out of less than 200 hours total flying time. There is no other place that comes even close. The six year gap was irrelevant by the time I was on my second circuit. I didn’t even hear Tom’s voice nagging me by the third. It was a breeze.
I struggled a bit trying to get everything done in time for what is a small and very fast circuit in the Saratoga but really, there was no reason for me to be nervous about the airfield at all. And when a few more planes joined the circuit, we called out to each other (me in English, them in Spanish) and kept a good look-out and the lack of a control tower didn’t seem to matter one bit.
So, that was nice and easy and I can take passengers again (and yes, my Mom does read my blog. Ooops.) and I have gotten over my fear of Axarquía.
Now I just need to organise flying there in time to get Sunday lunch at Las Cruces.