Monday 16 September 2019

New life for iconic 'prop' of Blue Max



A CAMPAIGN has been launched to help transform a Fermoy viaduct, used as the backdrop to one of the most iconic aviation movie sequences ever filmed, into a key tourist attraction.

The imposing viaduct was left idle and rusting following the closure of the old Mallow to Waterford railway line in 1967.

Two years prior to that the viaduct played a starring role in the film The Blue Max after stunt pilot Derek Piggott flew a Fokker Dr I triplane under the bridge with only four feet of wing clearance on either side.

The scene was the dramatic climax to the film, which saw two German WWI pilots (played by George Peppard and Jeremy Kemp) go head to head in a death defying dual of nerves to see which one would emerge as master of the skies.

Piggott flew the plane under the wide bridge span 15 times and a staggering 17 times beneath the narrow span in order to capture the perfect celluloid sequence.

Now a plan by Fermoy based designer Gerry Conlon to exploit the tourist potential of the viaduct has been backed by local historian McGrath.

Speaking to The Corkman, Mr McGrath said it was a shame the viaduct had never been put to practical use.

"You look at places such as Youghal and the Dingle Peninsula that have created a successful tourist brand around the films Moby Dick and Ryan's Daughter. In Fermoy we have a wonderful structure that has the potential to do the same for the town," said Mr McGrath.

"I spoke to Derek Piggott when he visited Fermoy in 2008 and he was astounded that the viaduct and its link to the Blue Max had not been

Paudie exploited as a visitor attraction," he said.

A number of years ago a plan was hatched to transform the viaduct into a base for bungee jumping, but this came to nothing.

Mr McGrath said he fully supported Mr Condon's proposal to turn the viaduct into a pedestrian walkway, similar to the disused railway in New York's High Line Park.

"Aside from its links to The blue Max, the viaduct is still easily accessible from either side of the river and has stunning views of the surrounding countryside," said Mr McGrath.