Autumnal blue sky over Portlaoise provided a perfectly beautiful backdrop for an aircraft fly-past to mark the 90th anniversary of the historic transatlantic flight by local man Colonel James Fitzmaurice.
The fly-past by members of the Irish Historic Flight Foundation was led by the historic “chipmunk” aircraft. It also featured three other planes including Irish Air Corps aircraft.
The event also featured a guard of honour and wreath laying in memory of the aviators at County Hall, Portlaoise.
The event was part of a weekend celebrating the First First East-West Transatlantic Flight on April12 1928 when the ‘Bremen’ took off from Baldonnell Aerodrome outside Dublin with a crew of three: Col Fitzmaurice, Captain Hermann Köhl and Baron Von Huenefeld. Thirty-six hours later the world changed as they landed on Greenly Island, Canada.
A major new exhibition, opened on Friday night, at the Dunamaise Arts Centre salutes Colonel Fitzmaurice, historic achievment in co-piloting the first aeroplane to successfully cross the Atlantic in a westerly direction.
Celebrations began with the formal opening of the exhibition, presentations on the flight and the people behind it, and screening of archive footage.
The exhibition of original artefacts from the flight and new works in response to the achievement is curated by artist, Brendon Deacy, at the Dunamaise Arts Centre for the month of October.
Relatives of all three of the courageous adventurers have attended the Portlaoise events.
The commemorations have been spearheaded by Teddy Fennelly of L.aois Heritage Society, who literally wrote the book on the subject “Fitz and the Famous Flight” and has supplied memorabilia for display as well as acting as historical advisor to the commemorations.