For years, I have been highlighting the connection between the sky and the land.
I’m blue in the face from mentioning it here on this paper.
Only last week, I brought you the very distressing tale of the trouble air hostesses are now having with their laundry. It was a subject many concerned farmers commented on afterwards.
It affected them greatly, I feel.
Anyhow, this week it’s down to business.
I have a great idea to save rural Ireland, and it involves air travel.
Indeed it could well get us sky high, in every way, in no time at all.
If you don’t mind, we will start by casting our minds back to two weeks ago, and that heroic plane landing onto a corn field in Russia.
With 233 people on board, a brave pilot was forced to make an emergency landing, and he did just that.
Thankfully, everyone survived.
‘The miracle over Ramensk’ some are now calling it, but I think it was no miracle, only a pilot being canny enough to spot the perfect patch to land his bird.
Ireland right now has more runway space than we know what to do with.
Every farm in this parish alone has at least one plot ideal for a landing strip.
I have such a spot, down at Cobblers Cross.
That two acre field I spoke about before.
You know the one, just across from where I collect the morning newspaper.
There is a gentle stream at one side, and a seldom used road at the other.
A two-acre field (that stretches as far as my old eyes can see), and it’s the ideal spot for Mick O’Leary or anyone else to land a Boeing.
All I’m short, really, is a skim of tar, and a few lights to guide the bird in.
Why is it that we have only a handful of good sized runways in this country, when clearly the world, or at least the country, should be our oyster with regards to runways? Everyone flocking like sheep to the Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports, seems like utter madness, when you think about it.
Accessibility is what is needed, and that is where rural Ireland and indeed the family farm can come in.
Some might argue that the landing of the Russian plane wasn’t without its bumpy moments.
And that is true, but the pilot on board had neither engine power, nor I’m told, was he able to launch his landing gear.
So I’m telling you now, there wasn’t an airport on the planet that could have provided him with a cushy landing.
The corn field was as good a soft spot as any other.
And it’s not the first time a canny pilot has chosen the long acre in times of need.
To be reminded of how convenient it can be to have a strip of land idle and half way decent for a plane, one only has to think back to 1983, and to Captain Ruben Ocaña, who landed a Gulfstream jet on the racetrack at Mallow.
Not only did Captain Ruben land safely, but sometime later, when adjustments were made, the plucky Mexican took off again from the very same racecourse.
Quicker than Tiger Roll could ever fly over the racetrack, Captain Ruben sped down the straight at 200 kilometres per hour, showing us back then what I clearly see now is the future.
The sky is the limit.