THERE was ‘flying’ of the more normal kind at the Armoy Road Races at the weekend, writes Nevin Farrell.
Local taxi driver Martin McCormick created a stir by buzzing about above the course in a helicopter to get a bird’s eye view of the races.
He said people even thought it was golfing great Darren Clarke or a tv crew taking overhead footage.
Martin said the view of the race course was fantastic and he said it was a “once in a lifetime” experience.
“The view from up there was fantastic. It was a lovely day and there was a big crowd. Everything looks so much different when you are up in the air and I even flew over my own house and took a picture on my phone.
“When I was in the bar later everybody was wondering who it was in the helicopter and some people thought it was Darren Clarke but I had to tell them it was only me!,” said Martin.
He has no intention of ditching his more usual ground-based taxi and take to flying people around to their destinations because it is not cheap!
Martin explained the idea of getting a helicopter up came from his friend, Davy Wishart from Kells near Ballymena, who runs a firm called TorqueTronics.
Said Martin: “I know Davy because he works with cars and when I said to him if he fancied coming down to the Road Races he said ‘Can you get me a landing site?’
“I thought he was joking but I asked ‘Patchy’ McNeill if we could use his property for a landing and he agreed. It turned out Davy hired out the helicopter and he came down on the Friday evening and came back down again on the Saturday.
“He is learning to be a pilot and I was able to go up with him and bring a few friends up as well. I don’t know what speed the helicopter was doing and whether it was as fast as the Dunlops on the ground but it only took seven minutes to get from Armoy to Kells! It was not cheap as it cost £400 to fill up with fuel at Aldergrove,” said Martin.
Some of the other lucky people who got up in the helicopter included Harry Mulholland and his son Kieran; Martin’s brother Joe McCormick and Joe’s girlfriend Deirdre McShane; Michael McBride and ‘Patchy’ McNeill and his family.
And Martin says the plan is to bring the helicopter back for next year’s races.