Now, engine failure is one thing if it’s in your lawnmower but another thing entirely if you’re flying a single engined aircraft. You might’ve heard about that incident last week with the Irish Air Corps plane at Baldonnell?
Well, the engine conked out about 30km from the air base but, rather than bailing out, the two pilots managed to manoeuvre the aircraft and glide it all the way back for a safe landing at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell in south-west Dublin.
The two-person PC-9 aircraft was conducting a training mission when the problem arose but, according to a military source, the pilots were unharmed aside from being “slightly shaken”.
Now, how about this: I had an uncle who was a pilot. I never met him. He was only 26 years old when he died but, believe it or not, seventy-two years ago this week, he had a similar experience.
On the first of March 1949, Sergeant Pilot Michael McGloughlin of the Irish Air Corps was flying his Miles Magister plane at 1000 feet over Dublin. Here’s a quote from The Irish Independent of the day: “The engine failed when the aircraft was over Griffith Barracks but the pilot was able to keep the machine under control as he circled over housing estates and crowded streets until finally, he decided to land on a CBS playing field near Clogher Road, known in the district as the Farmer’s Field…”
Here’s another quote: “Mr Rhys Edwards, 67 Crumlin Road, one of the hundreds of people who saw the accident, said he was alighting from a bus at 2.15 when he saw the plane which was making no sound, flying very low over the rooftops. Fearing that the plane had crashed, he ran to the field and found Sgt. McGloughlin standing by the plane smoking a cigarette”.
And another cutting reads: “He had several silent minutes in the air to contemplate the near approach of death among the city rooftops, or else to bail out. “It just shows,” he said, brushing back his tousled fair hair, “how safe flying can be if you keep calm.”
Now, there were other stories about him too – we always heard that he flew his plane under the railway bridge at Drogheda (although I have no paper cuttings to prove this). Tragically, his young life was cut short when his plane crashed in a field near Naas, Co. Kildare, just three weeks after the forced landing in Dublin city.
I created the painting above in fond memory of my Uncle Michael.