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Winger Bowe flying in search of licence to thrill

It was a sense of adventure that made up Tommy Bowe's mind to head across the water to Wales.

Rather than staying at home in Ulster and going with the status quo, the Monaghan man signed for the Ospreys and hasn't looked back. And not only has he developed his on-field abilities since transferring to Swansea, Bowe has become more than just the quintessential flying winger.

His latest hobby is a headline writer's dream. The 26-year-old is honing in on his pilot's license in Wales after taking lessons in a two-seater Icarus plane that does well to fit in his 6ft3in, 15-stone frame.

Flying too close to the sun? Well there's little fear of the down-to-earth Ireland and Lions star getting too ahead of himself — he endured many hard days in a green jersey before he became one of the poster boys of the Irish team.

Now, his injured knee - he hopes to be fit in time for next week's Six Nations opener with Italy - is a massive cause for concern. Ireland without Bowe in the number 14 jersey is simply a prospect many fans, not to mention coach Declan Kidney, won't want to countenance.

He revealed his new passion to his 13,043 followers on Twitter, and he explains it was Welsh international Ian Gough who introduced him to flying.

“I've been doing it for about a year now, off and on,” he said. “I think I've about 20 hours clocked up, I've flown solo and I've about another eight to 10 hours solo to do and a few exams, and then hopefully I'll be able to fly back home to training.

“I roomed with Ian Gough at one stage and he's big into it, he has his own plane. He was looking through the Auto Trader for a plane and we were just having a bit of a chat about it — one of his friends is a flight instructor. He said to give him a call and even go up for a trial flight.

“And I went up one day. Around South Wales there are really nice beaches and coastline and stuff, it's really quite amazing. So I've been out for a load of lessons now.

“We went out one day, the plane is literally tiny, and we ended up flying down and he was like, ‘If I wanted to take a girl on a date sometime, this is where you'd go'.”

New experiences. That's the reason Bowe left home in 2008. He hasn't looked back.

Now, a number of his international team-mates are being tempted with moves abroad and he can identify with their dilemma.

Those are the issues that are sure to be dominating the minds of others as they assemble for Ireland duty this week with their futures undecided but not Bowe as he thinks about flying with Gough.

“He took me down and we landed on the fairway of a golf course and there was a guy playing up the opposite direction,” he says.

“We turned around, parked in car park, went in and had a chat with the people in there and went out and played five holes and then took off again. Small things like that made me think, ‘Aw, I'd definitely love to do that'.”

And he did, taking the plunge and not looking back. It's a mantra that has served him well so far and — today's knee scan permitting — he hopes will keep his successful stint in green going this spring.

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