THE SKY'S the limit as Enniscorthy prepares to host a weekend of exciting aviation events to to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first ever flight from Britain to Ireland.
Englishman Denys Corbett Wilson flew from Pembroke to Crane near Enniscorthy in a Bleriot X1 monoplane on April 22, 1912, creating aviation history.
Conditions were good until he was about 15 miles from the Wexford coast when he ran into severe wind and rain.
Flying in poor visibility, he spotted a field he thought suitable for flying.
But it proved too short for his plane which ended up in a hedge with a broken propeller.
Corbett Wilson was unhurt and while waiting for his aircraft to be repaired, he became a celebrity in the district and made many friends.
Tragically, he was killed in action three years later while serving with the Royal Flying Corps.
He was shot down on May 10, 1915. Buried by the Germans, his grave is in British cemetery at Souchez in France.
A century after his ground-breaking flight, Enniscorthy is celebrating the aviator's achievement with a programme of events organised by the Corbett Wilson Centenary Commemoration Committee in association with Enniscorthy Town Council, the Model County Flying Club and members of the Irish Light Aircraft Society.
On Saturday next, April 21, a centenary memorial will be unveiled at Crane near Monageer at 12 p.m.
On Sunday, April 22, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled at Enniscorthy Castle at 12. 15 p.m. followed by a flyover by light aircraft from Enniscorthy and the U.K.
The Irish Air Corps will provide a fly-past of maritime patrol aircraft at 2 p.m.
The Model County Flying Club will present a flying show by members of the Model Aeronautical Council of Ireland at Enniscorthy Showgrounds from 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
The display will include a flight by the Iolar, a 1930's de Havilland Dragon aircraft similar to the one used on the first passenger flight between Dublin and Bristol, courtesy of Aer Lingus.
Spectators will also enjoy a flight by the Tiger Moth, an open cockpit vintage post World War 1 by-plane. There will also be an exhibition of model aircraft and helicopters. All events are free to the public.
Meanwhile, an exhibition on the ' Life and Times of Corbett Wilson' is continuing at Enniscorthy Castle until the end of May.
The commemorations opened last Monday night with a lecture on the aviator's life by the local historian Pat Nolan.
- MARIA PEPPER
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From the Gorey Guardian:
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Good to see an important first being commemorated, Corbett-Wilson was the first to do it without getting his feet wet and his flight counts as the "first". However, it should not be forgotten that eighteen months earlier on 11th Sept 1910 the well known actor and aviator Robert Lorraine left Holyhead for Ireland in a Farman biplane, but he was forced to ditch a couple of hundred yards off Howth Head and swam ashore, completing the crossing without assistance. His engine had cut out 6 times during the flight, which very nearly made the record books.