But it wasn’t just luck that got him his first ever flying lesson. David, from Crosshaven, is one of eight transition year students from Ashton School on Blackrock Road, Cork, studying the physics of flying as part of their Leaving Certificate curriculum.
They were on a flying visit to the Atlantic Flight Centre in Ballygarvan, thanks to their enthusiasm for the subject and a brainwave by physics teacher Adrian Landen.
“I had an introductory flight myself and I took another group of students to Shannon Air Traffic Control but I thought it would be a great if a student could get a lesson and the flight centre people have been fantastic,” explained Mr Landen.
“The eight students were chosen to come here as a result of their aptitude and interest in physics. They were given a test beforehand and I think they have all benefited greatly from this experience. I believe we are the first school in Ireland to do something like this and it is a new and exciting practical application of what they are learning.
“I had been wanting to organise something like this for years and the people at Atlantic have been brilliant. We were also very lucky with the weather. Blue skies and light winds, perfect for flying.”
Neither David, 16, nor his fellow students had any idea that one of them would get to fly as part of their visit to Atlantic.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” he said after the flight with Simone Banfield, who has just become a full-time instructor with the flying school. “I think I have been bitten by the flying bug already. We even flew over Crosshaven.”
During the flight David’s seven fellow students watched from Cork’s air traffic control tower, which was opened last month. Guided by Raymond O’Keeffe, they were able to watch on radar as the plane approached the airport after a half-hour flight from the city to Cobh and back again. “There it is,” shouted one, as the four-seater plane circled the airport waiting for clearance to land. “It’s just a little speck.”
The flight came courtesy of the Atlantic Flight Centre. Founded by Captain Mark Casey in 1994, with just two planes, the school trains pilots to international standards and now boasts a fleet of seven modern aircraft, a large school building with 96 students and 21 instructors.
As head of training, Mr Casey is a senior captain on a Boeing 757 with Jet2.com and is a flight examiner with the Irish Aviation Authority. The director of operations at Atlantic is Captain Peter Van Lonkhuzyen, who is a senior pilot with the Fastnet Jet Alliance and also served as captain with airlines such as Aer Lingus and Ryanair.
“The purpose of the trip was to study the physics of flight, and its application in the real world,” explained the somewhat envious students’ English teacher, Geraldine Collins. “This is bound to fuel their sense of inquiry. I will tell you one thing: school was never like this in my day!”
* For more information on Atlantic Flight Centre go to www.atlanticair.ie