The Air Corps, then and now

Sir, – I have a small correction to Miriam Lord's wonderfully descriptive article on the Easter 1916 celebrations on O'Connell Street. As the national anthem played, she writes, "then four jets flew fast and low in diamond formation right down the middle of the street" ("1916 celebrations a masterpiece of solemn dignity", April 6th). In fact, these were not jet aircraft, rather they were the Air Corps Pilatus PC9 turbo-prop pilot training aircraft.

The irony is that, for the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966, the Air Corps also flew down the middle of O’Connell Street in diamond formation in Vampire jet aircraft. Since the retirement of the Vampire jets in the 1970s and the Fouga Magister jets in the late 1980s, the Air Corps has not had any jet trainer or interceptor aircraft in service.

That this policy matter is no longer tenable was graphically demonstrated recently when Russian Bear bomber aircraft patrolled off our west coast in Irish airspace, with impunity.

The State’s reaction was to have the Irish Aviation Authority issue a press release on the dangers that such unannounced and uncontrolled flights pose to civil aircraft operations over our skies, which is true.


Meanwhile, the Air Corps had to sit on its hands as it has not the capability or the means to intercept such intruders or protect our skies.

I am not aware of any sovereign state in Europe that would not counter blatant violations of national airspace with at least a show of force and certainly not with a press release! – Yours, etc,


FRANK RUSSELL (retired),