independent

Monday 21 October 2019

Joan feeling sky-high after birthday treat

Gerard and Joan Cleary with pilot Stephen Smith and their daughter Madeleine Cleary at Newcastle Aerodrome
Gerard and Joan Cleary with pilot Stephen Smith and their daughter Madeleine Cleary at Newcastle Aerodrome

Supergran Joan Cleary continued to celebrate her 80th birthday last week, with a flight from Newcastle Aerodrome.

Joan received the experience as one of her gifts, and the Dargle Road Daredevil took to the skies on Friday afternoon.

'It was fabulous,' said Joan afterwards. 'I would recommend it. I had a great pilot with me.'

She sat beside pilot Stephen Smith in the cockpit and the two of them went on an hour-long journey around Wicklow.

'I was very comfortable with it,' said Joan, who wasn't nervous at all, and enjoyed the beautiful landscape of her home county from thousands of feet in the air.

Stephen put her at ease, she said, and the two of them got on very well. She said that to see Wicklow from the sky was absolutely stunning, and almost unbelievable. They did fly over her house, but she couldn't really make it out.

'I want to thank Geraldine and Billy for giving me the surprise,' said Joan. Geraldine is her husband Gerry's niece. They knew very well that Joan would relish the adventure and wouldn't be one bit frightened.

She also thanked everyone involved in making her 80th birthday so memorable. Joan had a party in January in the Ocean, where she was joined by Gerry, her children Madeleine, Gerard and Austen and other relatives and friends. Some family members also accompanied her to the airfield, and they got together for a bite to eat afterwards.

The grandmother of 12 loved every minute of being in the plane and would do it again in a heartbeat.

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