Sunday, July 29, 2018

Magnificent in their flying machines

The Diary took itself to Foynes yesterday for the Air Show there, writes Brian Byrne, as an alternative to trying to hassle our way through the similar event at Bray, with traffic and parking headaches.

It was a good choice. When we got to the pretty village on the south side of the Shannon Estuary, the local organisation was superb, with ample parking at 'park and ride' locations and a 7-minute bus transfer into and out of the village included with the €10 programme cost.

With the sun on our backs (only a few minor threats from 'passing showers') and a mix of blue sky and fluffy cloud, it was a most pleasant afternoon watching the participating aircraft.

There were extraordinary aerobatic feats from a variety of individuals, notably Gerry Humphreys of Limerick in his home-built VANS RV-7, the extraordinary 'flying dentist' Eddie Goggins in his Avions Mudry CAP 232, Andrew Fenton in his brightly decorated Christen Eagle 2, and ex-RAF Tornado fighter pilot Rich Goodwin in his Pitts Special S2S.

It struck me during some of these displays that the laws of physics and aeronautics were not just being stretched and bent, but absolutely reversed, and with a text-in competition to have a flight with Eddie Goggins in play, I certainly didn't enter it ...

Other flying machines on show had more nostalgic interest, including a Douglas DC3 from the 1940s in Aer Lingus livery of the time, and one of particular interest to the flying boat port of Foynes, a Vickers Catalina flying boat in US Air Force markings, named 'Miss Pickup' in the style of its WW2 service, impeccably restored and in majestic flying form.

There was Irish Air Corps nostalgia too in the pair of Chipmunk trainers flown by the Irish Historic Aviation Group, while the modern Air Corps was represented by a flight of Pilatus PC-9Ms, the current mainstay training fleet. The two Casa CN 235s marine patrol aircraft also took time out their duties to do a couple of pair formation flypasts. As did a Sikorsky rescue helicopter operated by the Irish Coast Guard.

A Messerschmitt Me109 and a North Amercian Aviation P51 Mustang 'Contrary Mary' playing WW2 dogfights, and some high-speed combat manoeuvres from a former Swedish Air Force Saab Viggen, were equally fascinating to see ... and from the latter, to hear.

A pair of Strikemaster jet trainers owned by a Welsh-based flying club of the same name were demonstrated in their paces, and the closing event was the aerobatics of the French civilian Fouga jet display team of Patrouille Tranchant, who saluted Ireland with smoke streams in green, white and orange.

All in all, if you were a longtime airplane buff like me, a really great day out.

More photographs here.

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