Finally, after months of waiting & hoping for tickets, the day arrived and I had my 2 required tickets safely stuffed into the front pocket of my camera bag. Murphys Law came into full effect, it was pissing rain. Keep in mind that in the weeks running up to the event the main worry with many people was keeping out of the sun/heat for fear of cooking ones innards instantly; in a kind of flash-fry style. No no, not today. Fearing that it would be cancelled but hoping otherwise, we hit the road to arrive in Cashel dead on time for the opening of the car parks at 11am. Had I known how screwed up the day would get I wouldn’t have left home until at least noon.

Full Set

We got to the town and it rained. We were standing in a field waiting for the fun to start and it rained. The fun never started. It kept raining. I was laughing to myself about all the people that didn’t get tickets missing this golden opportunity. Standing in a field and did I mention; it kept raining. Eventually an announcement came, something along the lines of “postponed until/if the weather improves”. It appeared that this was the final straw for alot of people and there was a mass exodus from the muddy field back to Cashel town and presumably onto the car park to return home.

We too took the time to get into the town, eat some doughnuts, drink some coffee and buy a change of socks. Some things just can’t be avoided. After some bad information from a member of staff in the shop that the event was cancelled, we got some reassuring news that it was to start at 4:30, about an hour after it was scheduled to start. A very quick summary of the events that took place is below.

  • Sea Vixen flyby – Didn’t happen
  • MacTeo Irish Drummers – Didn’t happen (or at least I didn’t see it happen)
  • MC welcome and Air Race explanation – Might have happened.
  • Aerobatic display by Peter Besenyei – Didn’t happen
  • Introduction of pilots
  • HSV Parachute and base jumping display – Didn’t happen
  • Helicopter track introduction – Might have happened
  • First Round of Red Bull Air Race
  • Second Round of Red Bull Air Race – Didn’t happen
  • Prize Giving – Didn’t stick around to see it happen

Basically, if you turned up late, at around 4pm and wondered what you missed… You didn’t miss a single bit of excitement. After the first round, I stood excitedly waiting for the second round, which never actually happened. People left en masse and we were swept along with them in the crowd of 60,000 people (estimated).

Full Set

I’d like to introduce another oxymoron into my dictionary of rant. “Crowd Control”. Not one of the so called crowd control staff knew what the term means and has an even lower understanding on how to implement it. I’ve come to the conclusion that they weren’t actually talking to eachother either. We were shoved one way by one group of them, then back the other way by another group. Each more determined than the other that come hell or high water, we were not going to stay in their area for long! Add to that the mathematically puzzling computation they had of trying to fit 10 people into the area needed for 1 person. I was astounded as they kept driving us backward without actually bothering to look that there was no more room. Children crying, dogs barking, it was like something from a low budget film with a plotline vaguely surrounding the famine.

The rain eventually stopped and things got underway, or at least as soon as the crew repaired all of the parachute silk ‘gates’ that had either blown away or ripped wide open in the face of the blustery winds.

One of the mishaps provided thousands of people with entertainment however when one solitary crew member was left to wrap up one of the partially deflated gates. He wrangled it awkwardly for several minutes to the guffaws and taunts of the ill-tempered crowd before receiving a less than rapturous round of applause when he finally got the immense balloon packaged up neatly.

Once the flying started it was amazing. The twists and turns, the pilots showing off by performing stunts after their run and almost shaving off the tops of trees such was the low flying required to complete the course. Sadly my noisy, washed out pictures don’t do it much justice but as per usual I’ll blame the truly terrible weather conditions we experienced. Perhaps before I blame the weather however I should see what results Donncha got from the race. That’ll be a good indication as to my abilities (or lack thereof). As always, there are more on Flickr.