We Take A Trip On ‘Air Force A Haon’
WHEN Michael D. Higgins travels, he travels in style. Flanked by two of the Irish Air Force’s most elite Spitfire pilots, Air Force A Haon carries our country’s premier to crucial engagements all around the world, and WWN have become the first newspaper to have an exclusive trip on the luxury aircraft.
Joining Michael D. Higgins on his daily jaunt to Galway for a poetry reading, WWN boarded the specially modified single-engine Cessna on the lawn out the back of Áras An Uachtaráin, before taking our seat in the passenger hutch located in the rear of the cabin. Michael D. soon joined us, got up on his booster seat so that he could see out the window, and we were off, scraping the bottom of the fuselage on the papal cross as we circled out of Dublin.
Roaring as loud as we could to be heard over the drone of the 2l diesel engine, we quizzed Michael D. on his travel traditions, but unfortunately we were unable to hear anything he said back to us. The president then fell asleep and didn’t wake up until we landed in Galway.
There were concerns when the co-pilot blessed himself and flung himself out of the aircraft with no parachute over Mullingar, but a quick Rosary from the on-board cleric was enough to miraculously solve the blaring klaxon and red flashing beacon that had alarmed the Air Force member to fling himself to his doom.
Onboard snacks consisted of a bag of Tayto and a purple Snack, and we were treated to an episode of Father Ted with the subtitles on, played on an iPad that ran out of battery 7 minutes outside Dublin.
The landing at Galway was a perfect success, if success is measured by bare survival.
The aircraft was then put on the back of a lorry and driven back to Dublin, with the president explaining to us that the plane can only fly ‘with the wind, never against it’.
Air Force A Haon will be put into storage until March, when it will attempt to make the transatlantic crossing to America for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, hopefully avoiding the tragic fate of the previous Air Force A Haon, which crashed down somewhere outside Iceland in 1971, resulting in the first death of the then-president Éamon de Valera.