WW2 Horsa glider pilot flies again

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WW2 Horsa glider pilot flies again

AN 84-year-old veteran of the second world war returned to the skies again. Johnny Wetherall was a pilot with the British Army Air Corps Glider Regiment and the last time he flew was in September 1944 when he piloted a seven-tonne Horsa troop-carrying glider into Arnhem, the Netherlands.

This historic mission was part of Operation Market Garden in which troops attempted to take control of the bridge spanning the Rhine.

This event went down in military history and was the subject of Cornelius Ryan's book "A Bridge Too Far" published 35 years ago and a 1977 film of the same name.

The book told the true story of the doomed attempt by Allied Forces to break through German lines and take several bridges with the main aim of securing the bridge over the Lower Rhine River in what was then occupied Holland.

Under the watchful eye of instructor John Houlihan, Mr Wetherall took the controls of the two-seater glider at the Punchestown Gliding Club and flew for half an hour.

Mr Houlihan praised the veteran's ability and smooth handling of the glider after all those years.

"He wanted to fly again and his family thought it would be nice for him to do so and once he was medically certified, as he was, it was fine," Mr Houlihan told the Leader.

He added: "Johnny said he was it was like riding a bike - once you learn you never forget. He said it was fantastic to fly again and he would treasure it for the rest of his days."

Mr Wetherall returned to Oxford, England, following the war and worked with Morris Motors, before being transferred to Dublin when Morris opened a factory in Portobello. He lived all his life in Deans Grange and is now a resident in Leopardstown Park Hospital, a nursing home for British ex-servicemen.


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By netchicken: posted on 23-8-2009

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