A Mexican pilot who made an emergency landing at a Cork racecourse awaits the building of a runway so that he can depart.
On 18 April 1983, Captain Ruben Ocana flying a Gulfstream II made an unexpected landing at Mallow Racecourse. The Mexican pilot and his crew remained stranded in Mallow for 39 days until a runway was laid to get the 15-seat jet airborne again.
Captain Ocana made the emergency landing at Mallow Racecourse after running low on fuel on route to Cork Airport when Shannon Airport was fogged out.
Reporter Pat Butler visited Mallow during the Rakes of Mallow Festival to talk to Captain Ocana and to follow the progress of the building of a runway adjacent to the racecourse.
The greatest tourist attraction to have hit the town of Mallow in living memory, a seven million pound executive jet which with great panache was landed here by the Mexican Captain Okana.
Locals who witnessed the landing described what they saw and the skill of the pilot in landing the plane. One man has put the events in verse.
As he flew towards Mallow town
His supply of fuel was down
But the pilot was as cool as cool could be.
In a racetrack west of town
He made a safe touch down
Just beside the Mallow sugar factory.
The emergency landing even features at the local Rakes of Mallow Festival with re-enactments of Captain Ocana's adventures on the streets of the town.
Captain Ocana has been embraced by the town of Mallow and has settled into the Central Hotel to await the completion of the runway. The pilot has become somewhat of a celebrity of the town and has been given the privilege of judging a beauty pageant.
An 'Ireland's Eye' report broadcast on 25 May 1983. The reporter is Pat Butler.