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I hope we aren’t going up in that tiny wee thing over there, I said. Actually, the pilot replied, we are

Donna Deeney takes to skies for a sneak preview of what the pilots at Air Waves Portrush will see

By Donna Deeney

Published 03/09/2015

Mark Holmes, pilot and owner of the Adelphi Hotel Portrush, a sponsor of Air Waves Portrush
Mark Holmes, pilot and owner of the Adelphi Hotel Portrush, a sponsor of Air Waves Portrush
A view of the town from Mark's plane

I have the ability to get lost driving up a one-way street so having to find my way to an airfield that isn't on a map was the challenge that faced me yesterday morning.

After a few wrong turns I eventually found myself driving up a narrow lane towards Causeway Airfield on the outskirts of Aghadowey, where I turned a corner and saw the tiniest plane I had ever set eyes on.

I was there to meet Stuart Luck, flying display director for Air Waves Portrush, as well as Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Michelle Knight-McQuillan ahead of this weekend's airshow to hear about what is on offer.

I was also there because I was being given the opportunity to fly over the area where airshow takes place, but for some reason I didn't initially connect the tiny aircraft in the hangar with my flight.

Joking nervously when I was introduced to the pilot Mark Holmes that I hope we wouldn't be going up "in that tiny wee thing, over there", the smile soon fell from my face when he said, "actually we are".

My confidence didn't grow any when Mark went on to explain that his plane was a Lake amphibian, built in America 1964 - it was almost as old as me!

I need not have worried though because as we taxied down the runway - a strip of well-trimmed grass in a field - it was clear I was in a safe pair of hands.

Mark's 22 years of flying experience was evident in the smooth take-off and away we went soaring over the beautiful landscape below.

The propeller is mounted above the fuselage of the aircraft for water take-offs and landings and makes for a great field of vision.

Along the River Bann and over the green fields to the seaside town of Portrush we flew, cruising along the coast at several hundred feet. This is where the action of the airshow will take place this weekend, over the waters of this popular holiday town where I went on so many family days out as a child and also with my own children years later.

It was an incredible opportunity to be able to view the town and its beautiful beaches from above and I wasn't even all that worried when Mark angled the plane sideways over the water so that the photographer could get a better shot.

An estimated 100,000 spectators are expected to come and watch the airshow this Saturday and Sunday when they will enjoy the display laid on by the Red Arrows as well as the flyby of the other aircraft.

Not many, if any, of those watching will be able to say they shared a bit of what the pilots see.

I am privileged that I did, thanks to Mark Holmes and his very special - if very small - vintage plane.

Belfast Telegraph

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