Published on March 23rd, 2022 | by Alan Dwyer0
The Irish Air Corps Celebrating 100 Years
On 21st October 1921, during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations, Emmet Dalton and C.F, ‘Charlie’ Dalton both IRA volunteers and Great War veterans wrote to their Chief of Staff from London that a Martinsyde Type A, MK II areoplane had been purchased in secret to carry out military operations on the British mainland and to assist, if required, the escape of Michael Collins and the plenipotentiaries should the talks collapse.
The Treaty was eventually signed on 6th January 1922 and the Martinsyde became the first aircraft owned by the provisional Irish Government arriving at Baldonnel via sea and road on 16th June 1922. Charlie Russell and William ‘Jack’ McSweeney, also war veterans and volunteers, had been instrumental in the plan and both immediately went to work in the Military Aviation Department under General Emmet Dalton’s Training Branch at GHQ in Beggars Bush Barracks setting up the Departments of Military and Civil Aviation.
On 23rd March 1922, at a meeting between members of the Government, General Stuff and the Aviation Department, the Irish Air Council was established. McSweeney and Russell were appointed Directors of the Departments of Military and Civil Aviation respectively with the ranks of Commandant General and Colonel Commandant.
Today being the centenary of the appointments, the Irish Air Corps celebrated the occasion with the passing out of the 26th and 27th Young Officers Wings Course. A flypast was held at Baldonnel with every aircraft type represented. The aircraft then proceeded to do a flypast from the Phoenix Park, along the River Liffey to the Pigeon House Chimneys before recovering to Baldonnel. Upon the return to base, the PC-9’s and PC-12’s performed a flypast and break for landing. When all aircraft had landed, they taxied to the ramp and shut the engines down in unison.