Belfast Telegraph

RAF centenary: Former Northern Ireland pilots turn back the years for reunion 50 years after they held their own celebration

By Gerald Lennon

Three former pilots have taken to the skies to celebrate the 100th year of the RAF after almost half a century on the ground.

Exactly 50 years ago, Denis Christie, Brian McCann, and Alan Dorman, all former Acting Pilot Officers in the Queen's University, Belfast's Air Squadron, took part in a modest 50th anniversary celebration of the RAF, flying T10 DeHavilland Chipmunk training planes over Belfast, Aldergrove and Newtownards.

The trio had a mini-reunion last week when they visited the Sleap airfield near Shrewsbury, where they were able to fly one of their old Chipmunks again.

Denis (71) served in the volunteer reserve from 1966 to 1969 and said 50 years felt an awful long time ago until he stepped back into the cockpit.

Belfast-born Denis said: "People always say you never forget how to ride a bike, well that's what it is felt like getting back into the old Chipmunk.

"It was good fun. Looking back now, I can remember it quite well, and it doesn't seem like a very long time at all."

The same Chipmunk used in Denis's day is still being used today for towing gliders, and is still in great order.

"We've been trying to get in touch with other members of the air squad and last week we managed to get in touch with one of our former instructors," he added.

Denis wants his comrades from that time to contact him via email on

Belfast Telegraph

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