Features

Published on September 15th, 2021 | by FII Reader

0

On a Wing and a Prayer…..

Aerobatic Wingwalking Flight, Friday 10th September 2021. 

It was in 2019 I decided to complete an Aerobatic Wingwalking Flight with UK based AeroSuperBatics in aid of the Red Panda Network scheduled for summer 2020. The initial plan was to complete this in Ireland with the team who had hoped to be at both Bray and Birr airshows. Of course, the world changed in 2020 with the global pandemic putting all events and our daily lives on hold for a long period of time. With this delay, it wasn’t until June of this year that we confidently scheduled the flight for 9th September @ 11.30.

With only a few days left before I was due to fly to Bristol Airport the news broke that one of the team’s aircraft had an incident after an air display at Bournemouth Airshow on Saturday 4th September.  Whilst transiting back to base, an engine failure meant the aircraft had to ditch into Poole Harbour. Thankfully, both pilot and wingwalker suffered only minor injuries thanks to the incredible skills of the pilot………. Of course, this news would mean a pause to all promotions off my flight until I heard from the team directly if public wingwalking flights would go ahead.

Ready for action

With the green light given that Monday evening 6th Sept, I psyched myself up again. On Wednesday 8th (the day before the planned flight) I departed Dublin Airport for Bristol. Full of excitement as two and a half years of planning was finally coming to an end, a call came through from the team that no flights would take place on Thursday 9th September due to poor weather conditions.  At this point, my heart sank and I thought to myself that this really wasn’t going to happen again! 

Following discussions with the team and rearranging a few personal logistical issues, I finally got to complete my wingwalk on the morning of 10th September. Two pre-flight safety briefs were given by the professional wingwalkers before being taken to the aircraft. A further brief was given by the pilot before climbing up into the rig. This was a challenge in itself and certainly wasn’t easy.

Once in position and with the five-point harness being tightened, I gave a verbal final check of my understanding of the hand signals. Thumbs up and engine start…….  I don’t think I can put into words the thrilling experience of being 3000ft up in the clouds, diving down into a loop,  completing stall turns, a Cuban eight and Barrell roll. Looking out at the world from this unique experience is second to none. Trying to breathe is something else as the buzz and rush challenge your senses and reasons for putting yourself in that position. A lifetime of memories has been created.  Would I do it all again?…… Yes, I would! 

I have an incredible amount of people to thank. Firstly Sé Pardy and Millennium Promotions Ltd for being title sponsors, whose support allowed this hair-raising flight to take place. Thank you also to Chris Shiel of Executive Helicopters for additional sponsorship. An incredible media support has been received building up to the event, including Midlands  Radio 103 with Will Faulkner and Joe Conney and all the team. Kate Pendred at the Westmeath Examiner, Marlon of The Marlon Show, Dublin South FM and Alec Elliott of the IAA. 

And finally to all the team at AeroSuperBatics who gave me a warm welcome. Lorraine Wright (Wingwalking Experiences & Events), Professional Wingwalkers Libby & Emma and of course to my pilot David Barrell. Thank you all so much for your care, attention and professionalism. 

Thank you all for the amazing support and donations from family, friends, work colleagues and anonymous donors. To date, I have raised €2377. Donations can still be made at
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wingwalking4redpandanetwork

Words and photos by Jason Phelan

Tags: , , ,


About the Author



Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • Squawk7000 Podcast

  • Next 3 Events

    no event

  • Our Supporters

  • Newsletter Signup

    Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
    Your subscription has been successful.

    Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.

  • Donate

    If you enjoy reading www.flyinginireland.com, please consider donating to help keep this website online.
  • Facebook Feed

  • Recent Posts

  • Facebook Fans