I was posted from RAF Changi to Air Movements Section Gan in February 1962.
After Singapore life at Gan could be a little boring to say the least.
One way around this was to get off the island whenever an
opportunity arose. So trips to Katunayke, circuits and bumps in a
Hastings, or island tours in a Sycamore were welcome diversions.
After 10 minutes or so of being thrown about we were
again cruising in calmer air and soon began our descent to Hulhule - the
island airstrip adjacent to the island of Male.
The Male Airport website states that this original runway was only 3000 feet - a far cry from 9000 foot concrete and asphalt runway that handles regular wide body arrivals at Male today. The strip then was PSP - interlocking steel plate laid down in WW11.
Nev Cooper who has posted his memories of Valetta flights into Hulhule on the Male Airport site recounts how, after rain, caution had to be observed when braking to prevent the Valetta skidding off the metal plate into the trees on the left or right! However this could also mean over running into the sand at the end of the runway, and according to Nev, many Maldivian hands were then required to get a Valetta back on the runway if the old Fordson tractor was not available.
While our VIPs set off for their meeting with the British Representative on the island of Dunidu we wandered down to the jetty where some of the locals were at work erecting a building. We stopped to observe the men at work when suddenly it was tools down and a small group gathered around us.Being used to our friendly Addu folk we tried to engage them in conversation - but of course these islanders had little contact with English speakers and we got no response.
The atmosphere was definitely unfriendly, and we soon got the message, and made our way back to the strip.
I don't know why we got such a cool reception but it was at a time when the independent United Suvadive Republic had been declared in the south and allegations had been made my some officials in Male that the British encouraged the Adduans to secede from the Male regime. Perhaps any arrivals from Gan were regarded with some suspicion at the time.
Before long we were back on board the Valetta and taxiing down to the turning point at the end of the strip.
As we lined up for take off our pilot throttled up to full power before releasing the brakes and we sped down the little strip, lifting off with feet to spare, before heading south to the friendly islands of Addu Atoll.
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