Dedication of Air Corps remembered at ceremony
THE MILITARY handover ceremony of Baldonnel Aerodrome took place on Tuesday, to mark the one-hundred-year anniversary, which was attended by over 1,000 serving and ex-service personnel.
The Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy and the General Officer Commanding Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor attended the military handover ceremony of Baldonnel Aerodrome on Tuesday.
In 1917, Baldonnel had been established as one of a number of Training Depot Stations by the Royal Flying Corps that would be used to train pilots for WWI. Following the Armistice and the ensuing drawdown of forces, the then RAF consolidated its forces in Ireland into Baldonnel, where they remained until they were withdrawn at the end of April 1922.
Irish forces marched in and took over the Camp on May 3, 1922 and since that day, Baldonnel has been the home of the Air Corps.
The ceremony on Tuesday involved a representative body of Air Corps personnel symbolically marching through the original main gate at 12pm. A wreath was laid to commemorate all those who died in service throughout the Century followed by the raising of the National Colours and a ceremonial flypast.
Speaking at the event, General Officer Commanding Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor remembered those who came before: “The dedication of Air Corps personnel, the missions completed, and the lives saved, have come about through the people who have walked through these gates and gave their years’ of service, most of which can be counted in decades.”
In the one hundred years since its beginning, the Air Corps has been involved in the aerial conquest of the Atlantic, formation of Aer Lingus, the operation of Shannon Airport, the defence of our neutrality during the Second World War and in setting up the National Air Traffic Control Service.
More recently, its tasks include air support to ground forces, search and rescue, fisheries protection, transportation of Government Ministers and officials throughout the world, along with aerial and ground photography, Air Ambulance missions, Aid to the Civil Power and Pilot, Technician and Recruit training.
“Looking back to what Baldonnel was like 100yrs ago, I have no doubt that those early members of the Air Corps would be very proud of the organisation that the Air Corps has become, and of all that it has achieved over the course of its first 100 years,” added General O’Connor.