Harry takes to the skies, just like granddad
Published 19/02/2010 | 05:00
MEET the country's youngest aviator. He is not legally allowed to drive a car but he can fly a plane.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Harry Humphreys, who has just turned 16, has already undergone two solo flights.
A member of Limerick Flying Club, the teenager is clocking up the hours ahead of his test for his full licence next year.
Growing up in Brittas, Murroe, Co Limerick, Harry has been steeped in the world of aviation from birth.
His father, Gerry, and grandfather, Chris, were both Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots and while most young boys play hurling or football in their back garden, Harry grew up with an 800m landing strip and a sports airplane at home.
At just 17, Gerry Humphreys was one of the youngest pilots in the RAF to fly solo when he attended the University Air Squad in Belfast, but his son Harry has beaten that record by a year.
This week, the fifth-year student at Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick is on mid-term break and is using some of this time to fly.
"I am delighted to be flying at this age -- it is something I have always loved to do," Harry said.
"Friends would come over and say I lived in a mad place. Planes would be taking off or landing, people skydiving or model planes flying about -- there is always something happening," he said.
Pilots are only allowed to fly solo after turning 16. And Harry has completed two solo flights since reaching this age on February 4, with perfect take-offs and landings at Coonagh airfield on the outskirts of Limerick city.
His father compared the airstrip at Coonagh to an aircraft carrier.
"They say if you can land at Coonagh, you can land anywhere, but Harry is doing fine at the moment and I am delighted for him," Gerry said.
Over the next year, the teen must record 45 hours of flying -- a minimum of 25 hours must be dual with at least 10 hours solo. As for his future career choices, Harry is concentrating on completing his studies first.
"I am not sure what I want to do yet. I might take a year out after school and go travelling, but I will always have an active interest in aviation -- whether I end up working in it or not," he said.