Dot writes: we spent this afternoon on the Liffey Quays watching the Dublin Flight Fest. I am far from being a plane nut, but it was fantastic. Three hours of planes flying up the Liffey, some singly, some in formation; big ones, little ones, old ones and new ones; modern passenger planes and little biplanes; helicopters and fighter jets; planes that could land on water and planes that could fly the Pacific. A Ryanair Boeing 737 had had its underside specially painted with the words “U Never Beat D Irish”, which raised a laugh and presented Ryanair’s cheap, brash brand in its cheeriest possible light. Sounds dull? Well, it wasn’t.
It was a surprisingly cheap afternoon out, too, mostly because there were far fewer food stalls than I expected and all those present had stupendously enormous queues. I queued for coffee for about twenty minutes and was morbidly convinced that the aircraft I wanted most of all to see, the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, would come over just as I was stuck in the coffee booth with no view. This didn’t happen, however. It came when I was inside the conference centre queueing to take Frank to the toilet and I was bitterly disappointed.
However, we did see two 1950s-model fighter jets, a Hawker Hunter and an F-86 Sabre, flying in formation
and a C-130 Hercules, another plane that entered service in the 1950s, and which flew over with its back open to show how it could drop things on us if it wanted to
and (probably my favourite) a Catalina amphibious plane, which really did look like a winged boat from underneath
and, the grand finale, a new British Airways A-380, the biggest passenger plane in the world, which was indeed absolutely enormous; we were told it was twice the length of a blue whale and it looked surprisingly like one.
We are quite used to planes, of course; we live under one of the regular Dublin airport flight paths; and we are all too familiar with the misery of queueing through security and at Boarding Gates, and the twinge of guilt and worry about how polluting it all is when we take yet another hour-long hop to see family or attend a conference. But this afternoon was far from the sticky weariness of lugging coats and children or the feeble tussle of conscience with convenience. It was all about wonder: the thrill of seeing the distant plane approach, become large and distinct, and roar overhead; the display of engineers’ achievements and the pilots’ skill; and the pleasure of seeing so many different aircraft, some historic, all marvellous. The crowd was cheerful and, because the action was taking place overhead, almost everyone had a good view. (Except the people queuing for the toilet.) The two boys, without being as thrilled by it all as we were, held hands nicely, walked like troopers, and found some other kids to play with when they’d lost interest in the planes. Even the weather – which at 1pm was windy and rainy, exactly wrong for an event like this – cleared up to provide clear skies for the crucial hours, returning to rain again just after the event was over. I’m extremely pleased that we attended.