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Montevideo, September 29th 2022 - 17:27 UTC



“We met only friendliness and warmth”

Friday, January 12th 2001 - 20:00 UTC
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Argentine pilot Martin Rappallini took off in his 5 seater Piper Aerostar aircraft from Port Stanley Airport at 4-15 local time, heading for Comodoro Rivadavia (and not Punta Arenas as wrongly reported in LA NACION newspaper), refusing to exchange his remaining Falkland Islands currency for dollars, as he insisted that he 'will return to the Islands again one day to use the money'.

With a favourable wind, the 49 year old 'Patagonian' who became the first pilot to land an Argentine registered aircraft at PORT STANLEY AIRPORT (and not as wrongly reported in LA NACION at Mt. Pleasant International Airport) since hostilities ceased in 1982, expected a flight time of around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Accompanied by his 2 daughters, 22 year old Maria Eliana and 20 year old Maria Paula, the trio were waved off at the Airport by many of the friends which they made during their 3 days in the Islands. The 2 girls were required to put on special recovery suits and life jackets in the event of a mishap during the flight, most of which is over water. Mr Rappallini had no qualms about flying directly to Comodoro, repeating what he had said earlier that the Argentine Government 'insists that the Malvinas are Argentine so why should they be opposed to me flying directly between Argentine territory'? He also highlighted the situation of an English pilot Andy Hopper who was permitted by Argentine authorities to fly his British registered Cessan aircraft directly from Ushuaia to the Islands. 'It seems strange that Mr Hopper is given permission but an Argentine national is not'!

The reaction of the Argentine authorities in threatening to take Mr Rappallini's licence from him has been the cause of considerable amusement and incredulity within the Island population. 'The Argentines cannot seem to make up their minds as to who does own the Islands - they are living in the past - our Government has been positive and allowed a non-commercial Argentine aircraft to make a flight to Stanley with a family of 3 who just want to see the Islands, and the Argentine Government are threatening him with various sanctions - can anyone expect us to ever take them seriously?' said one official.

Meanwhile the Rappallini family spent their final few hours in Stanley visiting the Museum and several gift shops buying last minute gifts for family and friends back in Argentina. Maria Eliana was given, free of charge, by British soldiers a copy of a minefield map which shows where some 22,000 mines, laid in 1982 by Argentine engineers, are located in and around the Stanley common area.

Last night in the newly opened 'F

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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