Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Rugby ace Tommy Bowe takes to the air on his first solo trip

Ulster Rugby ace Tommy Bowe has shared a photo of his first solo flight in a death-defying microlight aircraft.

The picture posted on his Twitter page shows the star standing in an airfield in front of a tiny black stunt plane.

He captioned the snap "first solo flight in this little bad boy today".

Attaining a pilot's licence has been a long-held ambition for the winger for a number of years.

The Monaghan-native first picked up the hobby during his spell at Welsh club Ospreys.

Bowe (30) was looking for something to fill his time during his midweek day-off. He was rooming with his Ospreys team-mate Ian Gough, who filled him in on his hobby of stunt-flying.

Bowe was intrigued and when Gough organised a test flight he quickly became hooked.

Recently the former Gaelic footballer confirmed his engagement to long-term girlfriend, former Miss Wales Lucy Whitehouse.

He asked Lucy to marry him over the Easter holidays in April and news broke as she posted a beaming photo of the couple online. The pair met in a Cardiff nightclub in March 2011 and hit it off straight away. Lucy (30) has now given up on modelling to concentrate on her nursing career.

Meanwhile, Bowe's Ulster team-mate and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris (28) has confirmed his retirement following a long battle with an ankle injury.

The British and Irish Lion suffered serious ankle damage in action for Ulster against Edinburgh in November 2012 which sidelined him for 16 months. He fought back to make three Ulster appearances this term, but has since suffered a recurrence of the same issue.

The loose forward had hoped to shake off the problem and secure a new Ravenhill deal, but has now been forced to admit defeat.

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