Trump helicopters in ‘dry run’ flights to Doonbeg

Trump helicopters in ‘dry run’ flights to Doonbeg

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The helicopters that will transport US President Donald Trump while he is in Ireland next week have carried out a dry run between Shannon Airport and the Trump family hotel in West Clare while a massive ring of steel was being erected around Shannon Airport yesterday.

Two Blackhawk and two Whitehawk helicopters, which were flown into Shannon on board C-17 transport planes during the week, departed Shannon Airport shortly after midday yesterday (Saturday) on a familiarisation flight to Doonbeg.

Back on the ground in Shannon, workers could be seen erecting kilometres of security fencing and crowd control barriers around the Shannon Industrial Estate and the N19 access road to the airport. Additional CCTV cameras have also been installed in the area to help Gardaí monitor traffic.

Security fencing being erected along the N19 in Shannon yesterday – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

Air Force One, the jet that will carry the president and his wife Melania, is expected to touch down in Shannon on Wednesday next. The couple, and possibly some members of Mr Trump’s family, will stay at least one night at the family-owned hotel and golf resort in Doonbeg Co Clare.

President Trump is due to fly to France on Thursday to attend a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. He is then expected to return to Shannon on Thursday evening and stay a further night in Doonbeg before returning to Washington on Friday. The details of the visit have not been confirmed however.

Over the past week, as many as ten United States Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III and one C-130 transport plane have landed at Shannon arriving from bases in the US and Germany.

Two Blackhawk and a Whitehawk helicopter at Shannon Airport yesterday – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

It’s understood that several more transport aircraft, including the massive C-5 Galaxy, are expected in the coming days carrying additional equipment including vehicles and helicopters that will be required for the massive security operation.

While it’s expected the president will fly between Shannon and Doonbeg, a cavalcade of vehicles will also be on standby in case for any reason, Mr Trump has to be transported by road. At least one surface route has been identified in case it’s required.

While security at Shannon Airport has been increased over the past fortnight management say it will be ‘business as usual’ during the presidential visit. Intending passengers have been told to allow additional time for their journey, because of the extra security measures, and to carry valid travel documents and photo identification.

Two tow trucks were brought in during the week to remove abandoned cars from parts of the airport that need to be secured for the visit.

Meanwhile, flight operations at a flying club about 15 kilometres from Shannon Airport will be grounded for the duration of the presidential visit.

Members of Limerick Flying Club, based at Coonagh Aerodrome near Limerick City, have been told: “We have been advised by the Gardaí that Coonagh Airfield is required to close during the visit of the US President. Accordingly, Coonagh will be closed from 14.00 local on Wednesday 5th June until 18.00 local on Friday 7th June. We regret any inconvenience caused.”

Equipment of the Trump visit has been flown in on a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III transport planes – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

A Peace Camp will be also set up outside the airport for the duration of the visit “in order to maintain an ongoing protest against his presence in Ireland.”

The main protest, which will take place at 6pm on June 5th just outside Shannon Airport, is being organised by local groups Shannonwatch, Extinction Rebellion Clare, and Futureproof Clare, and is supported by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), Gaza Action Ireland, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM).

During the protests, letters will be handed over for delivery to US President Trump and to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who is scheduled to meet Mr Trump at Shannon. These will call for an immediate end to the US military use of Shannon, Irish complicity in US military operations, and the environmental destruction of the planet.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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