Ireland, Casement-Baldonnel RHAG trip 2008

 

 

The venue for the RHAG tour to Ireland was well there could only be one place that wed all want to go to and that was Casement aerodrome Baldonnel HQ of the Irish Air Corps.

 

Setting off from several points of England i.e. Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester Birmingham and London - Stand Still somehow we all managed to arrive in Dublin around the same time. For most if not all of us the carrier to get us there was Ryanair.com.

 

Some arrived an hour or so earlier than others so the Presidential Limo was ready and waiting upon my arrival. Sat-Navs engaged we set off from Dublin for our destination Casement-Baldonnel. Thwarted at the first hurdle; there have been ongoing road works for the last few years that we have been visiting this area. Today was no exception and of course due to a realignment of the main road towards Casement the Sat-Nav was going haywire. However we all managed to arrive at the appointed place with seconds to spare to be met by our guide for the mornings visit Sergeant Wayne Fitzgerald.

 

We were all issued with high-viz vests and off we set at a cracking pace. Not much has changed at Casement since the last RHAG visit in 2006 except that they too have the contractors in digging up the place.

 

Our first stop was at Hangar four, which is also the home of the Museum and that was to be our last port of call. In the same section of the hangar two Cessna FR.172s in what can only be described as deep maintenance.

 

Hangar three next; two AW.139s resident in the northern side of this hangar. A voice called to me saying I recognise you, youve been here before on a visit well I was shocked to say the least but I suppose with an ugly mug like mine once seen never forgotten. I reacquainted myself with Corporal Wayne Withero who then asked if wed like to see the aircraft in the south of the hangar. Not wishing to turn down such an offer Im rather pleased that we accepted as there were six stored Alouette IIIs two more AW.139s and an EC-135T2.

 

AW.139 276 PC-9 267

 

We had to move swiftly along as the IAC were expecting a troop flight in from foreign soil by 1300 local time and our visit had started at 1100.

 

Sitting on the operational ramp were an EC-135T2 of the IAC same type from the Garda, an AW.139 and the Garda BN-2 Defender. Further along and outside of hangar one were three PC-9s one of which had just been washed. Two more PC-9s languished inside hangar 1 one of which was receiving a lot of polish and TLC.

 

Moving swiftly on once again our next stop was hangar two south; here a collection that included a PC-9, Magister, and an Alouette as well as the star of the show an Avro 631 Cadet that had been bought all the way back to Ireland from New Zealand. According to our host the General of the Air Corps flies this little beauty as he was instrumental in bringing it back from way down under and right a bit.

 

Hangar 5 was our penultimate stop on the visit; secreted inside was the top prize in the shape of a LearJet serial 258 thus completing my Irish Air Corps fleet, a certain Tom McGhee was also rather pleased at seeing this aircraft. Also in the hangar was a CASA.235 of the Maritime Wing Irish Air Corps. Outside of the hangar were two further aircraft a Beech King Air and a Cessna FR.172.

 

Our final stop was in Hangar 4 into the IAC Museum. Quite a few changes since my last visit in 2006 most noticeable was that the SA.365 that once sat there had gone. It transpires that all four of the Dauphines were sold to a civil customer in the USA.

 

A volunteer in the Museum offered the information that the first aircraft he ever worked on was a Spitfire serial 161; this aircraft can now be seen on a regular basis at the Aircraft Restoration Company Duxford wearing Dutch Air Force markings coded H-98. Hopefully one day Mr Kevin Maye will be reunited with this aircraft.

 

In just under two hours wed completed our visit and were on our way to our next destination(s).

 

Our sincere thanks to Commandants Eamonn Murphy & Seamus McCormack for authorising the visit, to Sergeant Wayne Fitzgerald for conducting the tour and to all other Officers and NCOs that made it possible to visit Casement-Baldonnel.

 

Footnote: Unless we are fortunate to catch it on delivery a new AW.139 will be delivered to the IAC in just two weeks time, seems like a very good excuse to go back to Ireland to me.

 

 

Alan Addo Addison

List Owner - RHAG