Society History - Our Story
Malta's geographical position has for thousands of years attracted the attention of whoever had the mightiest navy at the time. Situated right in the middle of the Mediterranean, the tiny island of Malta also offered, and still does, a natural harbour, appropriately named 'The Grand Harbour'. Aviation came into being during the era of the British Rule in Malta and consequently the Island had its first taste of aviation during the very early days of flight.
Great Britain deployed large numbers of aircraft, both from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm as well as the Royal Air Force and the constant contact of high-tech aircraft had a bearing on the local population where many a Maltese family had at least one of its members employed by the British Services. This provided enough ground to foster keen interest in aviation and some started building models, others just hung around airfield perimeters while others also started to take pictures.
Until 1971, Malta 'formed' part of NATO on Observer's Status and this added to the number of aircraft that used to visit Malta from time to time. A change in government during this same year brought about a new defence pact with Britain that allowed British Forces to use military bases until 1979. During these eight years, whilst the Royal Navy continued to send its ships and aircraft carriers into Grand Harbour , the Royal Air Force maintained a maximum of three squadrons at RAF Luqa.
It was during this era that the small fraternity of Maltese who took up aviation as a hobby got together one afternoon and decided to set up what was then known the "Malta Aircraft Enthusiasts" (MAE). Founded in 1971, the 'Club', as is affectionately known by members, grew in numbers and scope. Fortnightly meetings were held every other Friday mainly in Valletta and its suburb Floriana. Pilots from Malta-based RAF squadrons were invited as were pilots from the many fighter squadrons deployed to Luqa for their 4-week Air-Gunnery Practice Camp. These mainly consisted of Lightning and Phantom pilots who in turn invited 'Malta Aircraft Enthusiasts' members for a tour around their aircraft on the airfield.
Also during this period, Air Malta came into being and this only increased the interest in aviation. Nowadays, visits are organised to various aviation sites in Malta as well as tours to air shows in Malta's vicinity, including Sigonella and on board warships that visit Grand Harbour from time to time.
MAE was forced to change its name due to a new law forbidding the use of the word "Malta" in any non-governmental body title and was subsequently renamed 'Association of Aircraft Enthusiasts' (AAE). This did not last long and after a few years the word 'Malta' could be used again and hence another name-change, this time to 'Malta Aviation Society' (MAS), the title still used to the present time.
The Malta Aviation Society has over the years organised many exhibitions in various halls around the Island. Preparations are made all year round for the annual Malta International Airshow which nowadays is the prime showcase of the Society. The MAS has been organising the event since 1993.