81 years later - Earhart’s plane avoids a parking ticket in Derry!

Earhart Festival Director Ollie Green and the local traffic warden share a laugh over Earhart's famous Lockheed Vega plane, 81 years to the day the pioneering aviator touched down in Derry. (240513JC3)
Earhart Festival Director Ollie Green and the local traffic warden share a laugh over Earhart's famous Lockheed Vega plane, 81 years to the day the pioneering aviator touched down in Derry. (240513JC3)

One of the proudest days of the 2013 Earhart International Festival - the 2013 Earhart Medal of Achievement awards in Guildhall Square - almost ended in controversy yesterday when Amelia Earhart’s famous Lockheed Vega 5B aeroplane narrowly escaped getting a parking ticket!

Young people from across the city had gathered in Guildhall Square for the Earhart Medal of Achievement awards - joined by their fellow primary schools pupils, teachers, parents and friends to hear ‘our own local woman of achievement,’ Bronagh Gallagher, present the 2013 awards. The rain held off, the artworks now synonymous with the Festival were in place, the annual flypast was poised for 3pm.

All eyes were on the stage and on the winning young people who had made a difference in the community - not by academic excellence or artistic or sporting prowess, but by those sustained acts of kindness and generosity, commitment and selflessness that show our youngsters at their best.

All eyes, that is, except those of one official gentleman in a red fluorescent jacket and peaked cap - his eyes were fixed firmly on the beautifully crafted replica of Amelia’s ‘Little Red Bus’ plane which landed in Ballyarnett 81 years ago yesterday! The beautiful replica of Earhart’s Lockheed Vega was on the ground, it has wheels - and a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do...

Thankfully, disaster was averted by the human face of bureaucracy.

“Well, we had a blue-sky meeting with a traffic warden discussing the viability of issuing a traffic ticket on Amelia Earhart Day itself, 21 May, to the owner of the red bus,” laughs Ollie Green. “After some discussion, we told them to forward the ticket to the last known address of Amelia Earhart!”

After this light-hearted banter, the traffic warden agreed that no charges were liable, and no ticket would be issued, some 81 years belatedly, in the name of Miss A M Earhart provided the moment was captured on camera, as evidence that, yes, traffic wardens DO have a sense of humour!