Flying farmer and daring dentist thrill 85,000 at air show
A FARMER and a dentist entered the history books in a cloud of smoke when they became the country's first ever civilian aerobatic team.
A record 85,000 people lined the waterfront in Bray, Co Wicklow, to see Gerry Humphreys and Eddie Goggins make their debut at the annual Air Spectacular, part of the Bray Summerfest.
It was the pair's sixth year participating in the event, but their first as the Air Dynamics duo.
Mr Humphreys, a former RAF pilot turned organic beef farmer, said he was thrilled before taking to the skies to perform a series of stunts, including one called "The Split Shamrock".
"We're very happy – we've actually just done our routine for those who are experts, the guys that came from the UK. They've watched us practising and given us a few tips. We've practised a lot, so I'm happy with that."
The Limerick-based farmer said the partnership idea came from his friend, Mr Goggins.
"It was Eddie's idea," he said. "He just needed a bit more adrenaline than he normally gets filling teeth."
As well as the historic duet, the crowds were treated to more than a dozen acts, including fly-pasts from Aer Lingus and Aer Arann and an Irish Air Corps parachute jump from 5,000 feet.
The Black Knights, a five-man team from the Air Corps, landed on the beach at the start of the show and then brought proceedings to a close after a three-hour spectacular.
Se Pardy, the event's display director, said it had been "amazing''.
He also paid tribute to the flying farmer and dentist, saying they were "great guys".
"They're highly skilled at what we call death-defying stunts," he said.
As the 85,000 spectators began to head off home, the seafront was covered in litter, with bins overflowing.
Local councillor John Byrne said additional clean-up teams had been deployed, but wondered if the organisers had under-estimated how many people would turn up.
"They had extra staff on, all the resources were put into it," he said, adding that the amount of rubbish produced by 85,000 people appeared to have caught the local authority in the town on the hop.