All eyes on sky as 100,000 to watch FlightFest
MORE than 100,000 spectators are set to line the River Liffey for an air show spectacular that will see a World War II bomber and the world's largest passenger jet cruise over the capital at an altitude of a mere 800 feet.
A total of 30 aircraft will take part in tomorrow's FlightFest and perform a fly-by starting from Dublin Bay and passing the Pigeon House chimneys before swooping over the East Link toll bridge and past the Custom House.
Dublin Air Traffic Control Centre is overseeing the operation and a separate team of controllers have set up a temporary control tower on the balcony of the PWC building, near the Samuel Beckett Bridge.
The aircraft, most of which will be taking off from Dublin airport and Baldonnel, will circle in a holding pattern east of Killiney before they are given the all-clear to begin their fly-past.
However, one of the jets – a British Airways A380, a superjumbo and the largest passenger aircraft in the world – will fly from Heathrow, take part and then return to Britain without landing on Irish soil.
Dublin airport will remain open as usual during FlightFest, which gets under way at 12pm, with the fly-past beginning at 1.50pm.
Among the aircraft taking part are a number of World War II era planes including the Sally B Flying Fortress, one of the last of its kind to be produced. It was delivered to the US air force in June 1945 and was one of five B-17s used as 'Memphis Belle' in the film of the same name.
Spectators will also see rescue helicopters, aircraft from the Irish Air Corps and Britain's RAF, vintage planes as well as modern aircraft from the likes of Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Aer Arann, CityJet and Etihad.
Among the pilots taking part is Dubliner Captain David Beausang who flies for CityJet. The 33-year-old from Kilmainham said he was excited to be taking part in the air show and will be flying an RJ85, painted in the Leinster Rugby livery.
"I don't think I'll ever get the opportunity again in my career to fly at 800 feet down the Liffey," he laughed.
"We have an assigned slot from air-traffic control at about 3pm. So we have to be ready off the coast of Killiney. We come in from the Pigeon House chimneys and fly in towards the Matt Talbot Bridge. We will be doing 180 knots, that's about 200mph.
"We will be flying at a minimum altitude of 800ft. This is obviously a special plan by the Irish Aviation Authority, so we have dispensations from both it and our own airline to fly so low," he explained.
Mr Beausang has been a pilot since 2007 and said it was a childhood dream to fly.
"I'm a walking cliche because since I was a kid I wanted to fly. I think if you ask any pilot, they'll grudgingly admit the same thing. You can either grow up or be a pilot – but you can't do both," he joked.
With so many aircraft taking part, Mr Beausang is disappointed he'll miss out on the spectacle below.
"The flip-side of getting to fly in FlightFest is I won't get to see it. My wife, Laura, and my son, Will, will be down there but I'll be stuck in the office (cockpit).
"Will is 18 months old but he has already learnt how to say 'plane' and point up," said the proud father.
Met Eireann has predicted blustery conditions, but organisers said they were monitoring the weather and expected the full fly-past to proceed.
A number of road closures will be in place to facilitate the event, while Tara Street train station and Georges Dock Luas stop will be closed.
AIRCRAFT RUNNING ORDER
1. Aer Lingus A330
2. Van’s RV-7 x2 (private)
3. Sbach 342 (private)
4. Aer Lingus DH-84 Dragon (Iolar)
5. DHC-1 Chipmunk x2 (private)
6. Air Corps Rheims Rocket x3
7. Air Corps PC9 x4
8. Air Corps CASA x2
9. Air Corps AW139 + EC135
10. Air Corps AW139
11. Air Corps CASA x2 + PC9 x4
12. BAC Strikemaster (private)
13. Cityjet Avro RJ85
14. Aier Arann ATR72
15. FlyBe Embraer E-195
16. Air Corps 1 run clear to west
17. Ryanair Boeing B737-800
18. Air Contractors ATR42
19. Irish Coastguard SIKORSKY S61 + S92
20. PBY-5A Catalina (private)
21. B-17 Flying Fortress (private)
22. Aer Lingus Airbus A320 (Retro)
23. Transaero Boeing 767
24. DHL (Air Contract) Boeing 757
25. Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules
26. Air Contractors L382G Hercules
27. Hawker Hunter (private)
28. F-86 Sabre (private)
29. Etihad Airbus A340-600 (F1)
30. British Airways A380