Owen Anderson has been fascinated by aeroplanes and gliders since the age of seven, so it’s little wonder the Magilligan man is delighted with his latest job.
The technical officer at the Ulster Gliding Club is helping restore a piece of aviation history that has a local connection to his home place thanks to Harry Ferguson, the mansaid to have made Ireland’s first flight and who is said to be the first citizen of the UK to build and fly his own aeroplane.
“About six to nine months ago I was asked if I would get involved in a documentary for the BBC. I suppose they must have found out I had experience in covering aeroplanes through my work with the Ulster Gliding Club. I’ve done a couple of my own and it’s a bit of dying art, but I’ve always one on the go!” said Owen.
The 45-year-old, who started flying when he 11 and went on his first solo flight when he was in his teens, is tasked with helping build a replica of the plane built and flown by Harry Ferguson.
“This is now more than 100 years later and we will be building a replica plane - the way Harry Ferguson built it to prove that it can fly,” explained Owen.
“It flew more than 100 years ago at Magilligan Point. He did crash into the sea, but he flew nonetheless. I’m very honoured and very happy to be getting a monoplane in the air and to be involved in this.”
Owen said he expected the work will be complete within a fortnight. He said it is hoped the monoplane will be ready to take to the skies, weather and tides permitting, later this month.
Owen won’t be flying the plane, but he will be there, watching.
“It’s will be like nothing we have been used to,” said Owen, adding: “It’s very nice to be involved in something that goes back to the very beginning of aviation.”