While many sons follow in their father’s footsteps, this young Irish pilot is set to follow his former fighter pilot dad’s flight path and create a special piece of Irish aviation history this month.
Aviation legend Gerry Humphreys will be joined in the skies by his 21-year-old son Harry as they both perform routines during the country’s largest airshow, in Bray on July 19.
Gerry, one of Ireland’s most respected aerobatic pilots, will be flying his Vans RV7, a home-built two-seater sports aeroplane, dubbed the ‘flying cow’ because of its striking black-and-white colour scheme.
Harry, who is named after Harry Ferguson, the first Irishman to build and fly his own aeroplane, will perform his routine in his titanium-built ‘Mini-Mig’ micro-light style aircraft.
“I’m really excited about it. This has been a long time coming,” Harry said.
“I’ve been watching him from the ground, and been involved in airshows behind the scenes for several years.
“So it’s great to finally get in the seat and do a routine myself. I’ve been planning for this for a long time.”
Bray Air Display 19th July with @wicklowcoco @SimtechAviation @BrayAirShow @cityjet @BraySummerfest #BrayAirDisplay pic.twitter.com/Eh099gbRyG— Bray Municipal District - Wicklow County Council (@BrayTCouncil) June 25, 2015
Harry started flying aged 15, got his private pilot licence on his 17th birthday, has clocked up over 350 hours’ flying time since in more than 30 types of aircraft, and is studying at the Atlantic Flight Training Academy in Cork for his commercial pilot’s licence.
He secured his aerobatics rating last week and has planned a routine for Bray which will include several low passes, waves, and tight turns.
His dad, a former RAF pilot-turned organic beef farmer in Limerick, has clocked up more than 10,000 flying hours over 40 years in some 100 aircraft types, including military fast jets, general aviation, aerobatic, sport, land, sea, utility, and training aircraft.
An aeronautical engineering graduate from Queens University Belfast, Gerry earned his wings with the Queens University Air Squadron, before joining the RAF as a pilot.
He trained on Jet Provosts and Hawks before flying Hunters and Harriers in low-level ground attack and reconnaissance roles.
He has operated the aircraft from land and sea bases all over Europe, the Falklands, Belize, Norway, North America, Canada, and Iraq, and is one of a handful of RAF pilots to have flown over 2,500 hours in the iconic Harrier Jump Jet.
When he retired from the RAF, Gerry built the Vans RV7 EI-HUM, which he operates from his farm airstrip in Limerick.
He holds UK and Irish formation and aerobatic display authorisations and is a regular performer at air shows around the country.
He said the upcoming performance at Bray, his 10th appearance at the show, will be extra special because of Harry’s involvement.
“It’s nice to see that Harry is maturing in his aviation career,” Gerry said.
Up to 80,000 people are expected to attend the Bray Air Display where they will see Gerry performing thrilling low-level aerobatics, including turns, barrel rolls, and inversions, at times, just 100ft off the ground.
The airshow, on Sunday, July 19, is part of the Bray Summerfest programme.
In two weeks’ time the Patrouille Suisse will rock the skies over Bray! We are thrilled to welcome them to Ireland! pic.twitter.com/51jfmpwo2d— Swiss Embassy Dublin (@Swiss_IRL) July 3, 2015