It speaks to the enduring fascination with flying machines and exhilaration that thousands upon thousands attend air shows across the globe, and one of the biggest in Europe is about to return on our very own doorsteps with the Bray Air Show resuming normal service this Sunday in the Co Wicklow seaside town.

I was lucky to play the tiniest of roles in its preparation today.

On hiatus like much of the world for the past two years, its arrival and build up resumed at Irish Air Corps headquarters in Casement Aerodrome Baldonnell today with the Royal Jordanian Falcons carrying out the first rehearsals.

Yes, rehearsals, just like any other show are a vital component.

Air Corps HQ is celebrating quite the milestone this year, of which more a bit later.

I was among a select few - four to be exact - who would get the golden ticket of sitting in the spare seats of their aerobatic 'Extra 333E' aircraft, safe in the hands of the elite of the Jordanian Air Force pilots.

It begins with a safety briefing and a chat with the pilots, then it’s time to be attached to your parachute.

My pilot explains how in actual fact the aircraft is so safe it can glide almost anywhere and land on anything.

Reassuring as the tight parachute harnesses were pulled into place.

"This is just an extra bit of safety" he explained. If needed, climb onto the wing, fall off and pull the harness was the instruction and bend you knees as you touch the ground, lovely.

An engineer hoists you into the tiny cockpit and you’re away. He also squeezed a sick back into my pocket, "just in case" he said with a wink. It wouldn’t be needed.

The four planes take off together, climb steeply in to the sky and form a tight unit beside each other.

The lead pilot gives the orders, and we reach Bray in minutes.

Then its open season as they roll, loop pull hard G turns that drain the blood from your head and push you into the seat and parachute straps.

Smoke cannisters from a Extra 333E aircraft

I basically smiled all the way through it and I felt a little boys dreams come true inside.

Smoke cannisters are released, people on Bray head wave.

A few more twists and turns that plant the body further down into the cramped cockpit, with the wing tips of the neighbouring craft all staying almost in touching distance throughout in defiance of whatever gusts of wind tried to throw them around.

A dash back across south Dublin and a formation landing at Baldonnel, swiftly followed by strong coffee and some chocolate to settle the adrenaline.

The trip of a lifetime and these guys do it for a living. To entertain, to wow and enthral.

Dusting ourselves down we realise the scale of what they do while we spectators sit on the beach and look skyward.

This week, as our own military arm in the sky celebrate 100 years of service, they’ll be joined by air forces from around the world.

Cold War era jets will scream across the sky.

The Irish Air Corps Silver Swallows display team will throw their PC9s around while the world famous Red Arrows of the RAF will put on a world beating effort.

The star attractions though, and a first for Ireland - weather permitting - will be the arrival of the RAF Battle of Britain memorial flight.

A once in a lifetime opportunity perhaps to see a Lancaster bomber from the Second World War flanked by a Spitfire and a Hurricane fighter.

Representing the few you may have heard tell of, who were owed so much by so many when a battered Britain saw off the German Luftwaffe and spared their nation a possible German invasion.

They fly in on Friday and there are rumours of a flypast down the Liffey to signal their approach.

There’s an Irish connection of course as the Irish Air Corps officer commanding, General Rory O’Connor, was keen to point out.

"The fact that the Irish Air Corps flew both Spitfires and Hurricanes in the past is a fitting tribute to all who served in the Air Corps throughout the last century," General O'Connor said.

The Royal Jordanian Falcons over Bray, Co Wicklow

Se Pardy, director of the Bray Air Display said today: "This year’s event is going to be very special after the forced break of the past two years.

"We have an astonishing lineup that will not disappoint - it’s going to be spectacular."

In more recent times as Ireland and the world struggled with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, aviation was one of the hardest hit sectors.

That it has returned with such strength has posed a challenge in itself for airlines and airports.

On Sunday, hopefully, no luggage will be lost and the aircraft will arrive on time - purely to entertain and remind us that aircraft their pilots and crew are still quite the wonder they always were.

If the sun shines and skies stay blue, the expected 100,000 or so crowd may well agree. It’s completely free and kicks off from 12 noon on Sunday. Strap in.