Crossing Swords with a snail and Search & Rescue comes to my aid.

'The Regulated & The Regulator'
Capt. Murf (PPL) and Kevin Swords (IAA) enjoying 
a Pilot led Social event in The Snail Box recently. 

It can be odd how some people come in to your life when a switch is somehow flipped, a friendship is formed and then cemented over the years. That scenario happened to me sixteen years ago after busting my nuts (quiet literally) in Spain learning to fly Hot Air Balloons. My first port of call when home was to drop in to the Irish Aviation Authority in Dublin. I had in my hand, my fresh UK approved, Civil Aviation Authority issued Hot Air Balloon Private Pilots license. But my newly acquired 'ticket to fly' was different (story of my life). It contained an extra page which recognised my zero sight in one of my eyes. If I wanted to fly my Hot Air Balloon full time within Irish Air Space I would need my new UK license validated for Ireland. That fateful day, (when I had hair) and walked into the offices of the Irish Aviation Authority, the first IAA official I bumped into was a man called Kevin Swords. I'll always remember the blast of in depth knowledge that Kevin imparted to me on our first meeting. I could sense that Kevin immediately recognised the blood, sweat and tears I went thru in obtaining this major milestone in my life. It wasn't long after that, I had my Irish aeromedical certificate paperwork in order. 

Without getting too technical, my UK license recognised a GP checkup as a validation for fitness to fly (non ICAO compliant) where as in Ireland (ICAO Compliant) which was/is required is called a 'Class 2' aeromedical. Kevin was extremely helpful to me back then and seemlessly helped me in lining up what I needed to do (which I then did) to have myself fully IAA compliant within Irish airspace in tandem with recognising my monoacularity. Since way back then, the two of us have always remained in touch and up to speed on all things important and relevant to our mutual interest within Irish and now within the confines of European aviation law. Having a regulator as tenured as Kevin made any indifferent requirements that was needed of me, straight forward to deal with and as such I found I had all boxes ticked in no time. 
Within a few weeks and with the help of Kevin's input, Capt. Murf was catapulted into the skies of County Meath. I was ON THE AIR...literally. 

It was time to have fun, but more importantly it was time to start sharing that fun. 
I was good to go, and I did !

Thank you to the Kellett Family last night for being brilliant hosts, as per usual. 

Sporting my new Sikorsky hat with Irish Search and Rescue patch

It's a long story, and possibly one for another day, but my friendship with Mark Donnelly, an experienced senior pilot with the Dublin based Irish Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter goes back a number of years. Just off shift yesterday and Mark drops over to see me, armed with a class Sikorsky issued factory baseball hat, Sikorsky pens, keyfob and Coast Guard patches. All this kit is as rare as hens teeth. Rest assured Mark, it's in a good home now. 

Over the years, it is common for me to invite Mark out for a fun evening of Hot Air Ballooning. Apart from those important F words (Fun & Flying of course), I always figured, God forbid that if anything untowards happened to me in the air, it's people like Mark that could very well be out there looking for me, or indeed on first on scene on the ground helping me. This being said, it makes perfect sense to me that those at the cold-face of my local Search & Rescue Coastguard Helicopter service should be introduced and experience Hot Air Ballooning up close and personal. Moving forward now a number of years and I've flown Mark a number of times in the basket, along with his good lady wife Fiona. 

© Meath Chronicle 2015. 

My daughter Aoife's school got spoilt two years ago, when, after weeks of planning, Mark and his flight crew, flew in their new Search & Rescue helicopter to the school and did a shut down on site which allowed every kid (Aoife included) to get up close and personal with a tour of this very special aircraft and learn so much of its search & rescue functional role and capabilities. Trust me here when I tell you that it's opportunities just like this one, afforded to kids at this stage of their junior years that can sow a seed which in turn can quiet possibly reap an interesting reward for these students in latter years to come. 


As myself and Mark continued to catchup and chat yesterday, he  tells me about a lady based in North County Dublin who has beaten cancer, not once, but twice. Mark shares with me, Bernadette Bohan's website. On reading Bernadette's story, this lady attributes her success primarily thru dietary changes to her lifestyle.  I'm sharing Bernadette's details below. Going forward, as my Oncology treatment progress's and in consultation with my own medical team at the Bons Secour Hospital, I do intend touching base with this lady and finding out more. If you wish to do the same, I have listed below, the appropriate links that will assist you. 
Click here to watch Bernadette's appearance on TV3. 

Click here to visit Bernadette's website. 


Thanks as always for reading my blog.
 I hope in small way, you took something of use from it. 

If you are dealing with a similar situation, you are welcome to get in touch.

My email account is both secure and encrypted

Simply click here to say hello or if later, take note of my email address. 


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