Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Council to look at ways of commemorating Ferguson's first flight

LISBURN City Council is to meet with the Ulster Aviation Society to discuss ways of commemorating Dromore man Harry Ferguson's1909 flight which marked the beginning of powered aviation in Ireland. The inventor, who became world famous as the designer of the successful Massey Ferguson tractor, also designed and built Ireland's first powered aircraft.

Members of the Council's Economic Development Committee watched a presentation by representatives of the 'Ferguson Flight Project 2009' at their September meeting.

This included a number of photographs showing memorials the council could consider erecting to celebrate the centenary of the flight.

They were also given details of other ways of commemorating the event such as special stationery and postage stamps, tours, lectures and aviation fairs.

Prior to receiving the deputation councillors were reminded a major commemorative project at 'Growell', the Harry Ferguson homestead, was already under development and due for completion in April.

They were told this included information boards, off street car parking and a memorial.

Most of the information at the site will be about Mr. Ferguson's tractor linkage system but his wide range of inventions and interests will also be covered.

Members recommended the council meet with the Society to discuss ideas on an appropriate way forward.

A letter will also be forwarded to Royal Mail regarding the proposal for commemorative stamps. One of Harry Ferguson's first flights in an engine powered aircraft began on the beach in front of Newcastle's Slieve Donard Hotel.

The year was 1910 and he took to the skies in an attempt to win a 100 prize offered by the town for the first powered flight along the strand.

The first take-off ended in failure but eventually the monoplane lifted off the sands, and according to a contemporary newspaper report: "He flew a distance of almost three miles along the foreshore at a low altitude varying between 50 and 500 feet."

A stone commemorating the feat is located on the seaside resort's promenade.

Ulster Star