General Aviation

Published on February 10th, 2021 | by FII Reader

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50 years of Limerick Flying Club

The first official landing at Coonagh airfield was made by St. John Kearney on 23 January 1947. While the airfield saw a lot of activity between 1947 and 1970, things began to change when Shannon Flying Services had relocated from Coonagh, co. Limerick to co. Galway. The aviation enthusiasts in Coonagh were left with no aircraft and no instructor. It was decided to form Limerick Flying Club. Foncy Hobins, Brendan Beegan and Bryan Carpenter formed the initial Committee, with Foncy being the first person to subscribe his £2 membership fee. Now that they had a club, the next item on the agenda was to find an aircraft.

After initially borrowing an aircraft from Munster Aero Club, Cork, Limerick Flying Club took delivery of EI-AOO on 6th February 1971. Flown by Pierce Cahill, the aircraft was painted in the livery of the club with the club logo on its tail fin. It also had “Limerick Flying Club” boldly painted on the fuselage.

EI-AOO was a Cessna 150E built in Wichita, U.S.A, initially bearing the marks N2125J. It was brought to Dublin and assembled there on 18th May 1965, and then first flown the next day. It was registered to Iona Garage and Engineering Works Ltd on 30th April 1965 and then to the Irish Aero Club, Dublin on 18th February 1966. During the Winter of 1967, Galway Flying Club, Oranmore purchased EI-AOO. Its first instructional flight by Tony Doyle, was on 5th November 1967. The aircraft was damaged by a hard landing in September 1969, resulting in its return to Iona in part exchange for another aircraft. EI-AOO was re-registered to the Irish Aero Club.

To acquire this aircraft, the three Committee members of LFC and their club of approximately a dozen or so fellow enthusiasts subscribed a loan of £70 each. It was for the down payment to allow the purchase to happen. Finance was provided covering the cost price of £3,000, less the club’s down payment, and was to be repaid by 36 monthly payments of £68.90.

By the end of the Summer of 1971, the membership of LFC had increased to approximately thirty members. The club had a bar licence at the airfield and ran very successful “Pig and Porter” nights. By 1974, club membership had increased to 52. EI-AOO flew 274 hours in 1973. The rate for an hour flying was £9, which included £1 for the instructor.

The second aircraft to join LFC’s fleet was a Rallye Club MS 880B, registered EI-AUP on 5th November 1976. By 1979, the club membership was at 80 and there were six instructors; Tony Doyle (C.F.I.), Joe Ryan, Dr. Ali Khan, John Mulkerrins, Sean Walsh and Count John Sierstorpff. In 1985, Rallye MS 892A EI-BOP was purchased to replace EI-AUP. EI-BOP was subsequently replaced by MS 892 EI-BKU. The club was given its own radio frequency, 129.9MHz, in 1988. 

Dozens of aircraft were operated by LFC in its 50-year history and in excess of 20 former LFC students now fly for an airline. Today, Limerick Flying Club thrives as a Declared Training Organisation. Membership stands at approximately 100 and the club operates three Tecnam P2002-JF aircraft, namely EI-JPK, EI-LFC, and EI-WFD. The Tecnam P2002-JF is a low-wing, two seat, single engine airplane. It’s Italian designed and constructed. Mr. Alan Bramson, M.R.A.e.S, Chairman of the Panel of Examiners and Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators is reported to have said at a club Safety Seminar in February 1980 “if you can land at Coonagh, you can land anywhere”. This is a reference to the skill of pilots who fly in and out of the smallest hard-surfaced strip in the country.

Ref: Traynor, M Through the Clouds over Limerick….and beyond… A history of Aviation in Limerick, 1997.

Thanks to Limerick Flying Club for providing this selection of photos from their history.

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