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Shannon: A Plane Spotter's Diary

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Monday April 05, 2004 21:19author by Tim Report this post to the editors

Buses, Bananas and Rude Anonymous Cops.

While the corporate media froths and sputters over fantasy foreign "armies of anarchists" invading Irish soil and overstretching the "young inexperienced Gardai" a full scale invasion is taking place with the assistance of the government, the Gardai and the airport authorities at Shannon.

Thousands of US troops (and probably munitions) are passing through Shannon every month.

Plane-spotter extraordinaire Tim Hourigan is the only reason that we are aware of this: in this latest report taken from the newswire he details his latest spotting and the petty harrassment of him by a secret police goon and Garda who managed to obtain a banana skin from him. NUJ journalists could learn something about ethics and originality in reporting from Tim.

"Went out to Shannon yesterday following reports of military traffic. Saw plenty, and got a rude visit from a cocky detective.

3 ATA planes carrying troops for the military and 2 USAF Hercules. One had been there since noon on Saturday and the other probably stayed over last night, after depositing a number of passengers."

Shannon Observation report for Sunday 4th April 2004: .

  • Arrived by bus 14:10
  • Went to PiE warehouse in Ind Estate. Immediately saw dark grey hercules parked in the centre of the airfield facing away from the terminal. It was being guarded by the airport police, the Garda Siochana and an Irish Army jeep with at least 2 soldiers inside. The herc was marked as being US AIR FORCE.
    On the tail was a US flag, beneath that were the letters ANG (standing for Air National Guard) then a horaizontal white band with the word "KENTUCKY" and what I believed to be a small diagram of the state of Kentucky either side of the word, and beneath the white band were the numbers 11233.
  • There was an ATA Tristar at the terminal, in the enclosed 'pen' guarded by more cops and airport 'pretend cops'. The ATA Tristar took off from runway 24 at 14:23, then turned left to head East. He made contact with Shannon Departue as "Reach 757" . "Reach" is a call sign used by US military flights.
  • At 15:32 another ATA tristar landed on runway 24 and taxied to the enclosed 'pen' at the far end of the terminal. Airport police vehciels and a Shannon catering truck followed it. The catering truck is the big giveaway that there's plenty of troops on board.
  • At 15:58 a Blue Ford Focus pulled up next to me, (reg 01-D-71746) and 2 men got out, Sgt Noel McMahon in uniform and wearing a Shannon Airport airfield pass around his neck, and a man in plain clothes who refused to give his name. He was in his late 20s, about 5'8" - 5'10" with short brown hair and brown eyes, average build wearing a dark blue top, and brown chinos (last seen tugging his forelock for the gentry)
    These two 'gents' decided to ask a series of obviously dumb questions:
    "Are you planespotting?"
    "What are you writing in your notebook?"
    "Are you taking photographs?" (with my invisible camera)

    The other bloke wouldn't tell me his name, said that he was a detective and didn't need to be in uniform, and said we were only having a friendly chat so there was no need to tell me his name.

    He then noticed a banana skin on the ground and saw there was some writing on it. It was from a bunch of bananas I had bought some days earlier. Not sure what the writing was, but the cocky detective seized on it like it was some vital evidence. I reached down to pick it up saying I would deposit it somewhere to rot, or if he wanted to take it and dump it for me he was welcome. As I reached for it, he barged me out of the way, stood on it and took the banana skin while Sgt. McMahon noted the time and the 'seizure of evidence'

    The detective then asked me if I was back talking to Conor again as he'd heard a rumour we'd all been arguing.

    I didn't bother to ask him where he got such inaccurate info, but said that he should know better than to depend on rumour.

    Sgt McMahon asked me a number of times again if I had a camera, I ignored him most of the time and then just told him, 'twould be a hard day to hold a camera steady with winds gusting at 18 knots.

    I asked for the detectives name again and made a note in my notebook "refused to give name."

    The Sgt didn't seem to like the fact that I had a notebook with me. They stood around me in silence until I rang a friend on my mobile, and lo and behold the two of them disappeared back into their car.

  • At 16:15 I was heading to catch the 16:20 bus home at when I noticed a large white unmarked coach being escorted onto the airfield. There was also a marked increase in the movement of airport police vans etc.
  • I decided to check it out and saw another Herc landing.

    The 2nd herc taxied over to the first, and park facing towards the terminal. It was also marked US Air Force, and ANG but was from Michigan and was numbered 21858.

  • As I was watching the coach being escorted to the Herc by the FBO van (http://www.fbo.ie) a Garda Squad car (03-D-57283) pulled up. 2 uniformed Gardai were inside, too shy to give their names, but I got one number (CL 238.)
  • After a while, the ford focus came back, with our cokcy detective friend asking me if I was getting overtime for this, he assured me he was getting "top rate" himself.
  • While two mobile field lights were being assembled in front of the 'Michigan' Herc. The flight crew left the plane and were taken to the terminal in a mini-van, leaving a ground crewman to deal with FBO. Other men the emerged from the plane and got on the large coach (a 50+ seater)
  • The Gardai continued to drive up and down past me with increasing frequency.
  • At 16:45 another ATA jet landed, this time a twin engine 757, registered N525AT (recently spotted at Dublin airport, see pic from March 20th) http://www.airliners.net/open.file/540475/L/
  • The ATA 757 went to the 'pen' and parked to the left of the larger ATA tristar. again more APOs, Gardai escorted it as well as a Shannon Catering truck.
  • At 16:58 the ATA tristar was pushed back for departure, but then stopped to allow the FBO van to drive out to the Michigan Herc.
  • At 17:05 The ATA tristar took off heading 240, but turned left to go east.
  • At 17:10 the FBO van escorted the coach to the terminal where approx 15 men got off and entered the terminal.
  • At 17:22 they re-emegred. got back on the coach and left the airport. I walked to the road to get a better look. The coach was completely unmarked, reg was 93-KK-1727 (Kavanagh's?) and the passengers were all male, with baseball caps and sunglasses.

    I bumped into another planespotter who confirmed that the Kentucky Herc had been in since the previous day, and told me that the cops had been checking him out. I didn't know him, but he said he'd heard of me.

  • At 18:40 the remaining ATA jet took off after being refuelled and taking on water and food for the troops. It used the call sign "Reach 3756".
  • A friend came along before I left and took some photos which I hope to put up later. Better quality pic of the Michigan Herc photographed in flight: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/376985/M/

Previous reportage from Tim Hourigan:
Feb 23rd 2004. Rumsfeld uses Shannon for photo-op. T.H. warns of Depleted Uranium accident
Why we don't want to be US military outpost Shannon Safety Consultation
Response to Aer Rianta legal threat Miami Air returns
Shouldn't "they" be watching the planes? Criminal complaint against Ahern. Make your own.
Let's get Bertie! Hide and Seek goes on
World Airlines pull out of Shannon Barring order dropped by High Court
Shannon: the Truth Cops called to deal with US military Hercules
Primetime censors Tim Hourigan (by Aidan) Bertie handlers tell RTE not so show protest
Gardai asked to investigate aircraft Evergreen International's dirty little secret
Rent-a-cops harrass plane spotters U.S. military in Aer Lingus disguise
U.S. troops face-to-face with observors Aer Rianta tries to hush it all up using force
Help with Dubsky case requested Peace activists arrested at Shannon
Shannon Warport: traffic increases Pics of US Marine Corp aircraft

Upcoming plans for protests against Bush and the Iraq Invasion.

author by Top Secretpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 16:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors




author by CBpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 17:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was sitting next to you on Sat and spotted that banana skin. Think you had a phone number written on. Wow, my observation skills could land me a job as a cop!

Sounds like a tip for passing on secret messages you would read in a childrens spy book. They're probably the text books they study down in Templemore.

author by Justin Morahan - Peace Peoplepublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 19:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for keeping us informed. John may not haver heard of freedom of action (it was promised by Mr Bush to the Iraqis but misinterpreted by some of them).
Tim, you are doing a great job that other journalists are failing to do. Your work as always is excellent. [reference to "John" is to a deleted post - IMC editorial]

author by Cawl Sinepublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 21:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting chatter this morning

Watch how the call sign changes at the end...

Shannon Area Air Traffic Control

"REACH 757" Identified on Radar

"REACH 757" transferred to Shannon approach.
"Reach 757" tells Shannon approach that it is at 4,000 ft.

08:59 "REACH 757" reports passing 3,500ft.

09:00 "REACH 757" reports passing 3,000ft.

09:02 "REACH 757 HEAVY" reports established on localiser for ILS for approach to runway two-four.

(switches to Shannon Tower frequency at 09:04)

09:04 "AM TRANS 757 HEAVY" on approach to runway Two Four.

Tower : "Am Trans 757 heavy is clear to land"

Why the sudden change of call sign just as it was about to land (and become obvious to anyone at the airport that it was an ATA Tristar)?

author by Lone Gunmanpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 22:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Using the word "heavy" in radio traffic approaching an airfield and on ,base,and final approach to landing is warning any other aircraft of the chance of wake turbulence.Which is alot of very turbulent air caused by a large aircraft landing or taking off.It is distinctly unpleasent if another large aircraft lands immediately behind it,and positively leathl to a small aircraft.Since the pilots of the transporter dont know what other aircraft or behind them or about to take off it is standard operating procedure.
Sorry nothing sinister there.
In all fairness to you 100% improvement in the reports.Credit where credit is due.

author by Righteous pragmatistpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 22:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I mean you have been standing around taking pictures and noting reg numbers of U.S. airplanes but what good does it do?
Are you going to be giving your evidence of Irish compliance in genocide in Iraq to some sort of commision of enquiry?
I can see you on a stand wagging your finger as blubs flash!
Dubya is in cuffs with two days stubble on his face hanging his head in shame!
Yeah Right!

Only way you can change things if you knock a Hercules out of the sky with a SAM launcher.
Then someone might care!

author by Eoin Dubskypublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 22:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you so much Tim for your continued vigilance, friendship, wit and clarity.

*Message to admins: Can I already cast my vote for the Indymedia 2004 Who Rocks (or whatever its called) contest?*

author by Lone Gunmanpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 23:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I guess it is the IWAM version of the anroak hobby of tain spotting. Leave him/them to it .Keeps them out of more serious mischeif and keeps the rent a cops in Shannon in a job they are just about competant to do.

author by Head Teacherpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 23:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you're going down there, don't miss the "tain", and don't get up to any "mischeif".
Do post more of your musings, when you become "competant" enough to compose one without too many spelling mistakes.

author by Head teacherpublication date Mon Apr 05, 2004 23:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and don't forget your "anroak". It might be raining

author by Acidpublication date Tue Apr 06, 2004 00:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

good reports as usual.

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Tue Apr 06, 2004 19:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Are they insane? What on earth do they want to do with a banana skin? Can it be classified as an offensive weapon or something?

Maybe for these keystone cops it could be considered a dangerous booby trap.

Isn't it an offence for the wee piggy not to give his name and number? You'd think he was ashamed of his job or something.

author by Drbinochepublication date Tue Apr 06, 2004 20:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK guys I know normally do not agree with alot of what is reported on this site, but I must congratulate Tim on doing a good job. He observed and at no point did he try to do anything stupid or illegal.

The Garda should have provided his number, I am fairly sure its an offense not to.

Wasn't aware they werre using such aircraft for the troops, 757, not a bad plane.

Phuq Head, do us a favour and stop referring to the Garda as Piggies, it detracts from your points. I mean it would be as bad as me continuously calling you guys Crusties or something as stupidly offensive.

author by Northern Eyepublication date Tue Apr 06, 2004 20:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Garda are pigs. They took my beer off me one year in Galway when I were but a lad and I'll never forget the look of infinite ignorance and almighty glee on their fat pink faces as they did so. I could see in them the traces of their awful, hoofed hoggish ancestors whose evolution into some sort of human like apperance produced these terrors and I'll never forget the fear I felt on seeing such horror parading around so proudly in a blue uniform. I will never forgive them, I was broke, it was the last of my grog and I spent the rest of the day inconsolable forced to face sober reality on a freezing Irish August morning. Death to the jackboot!

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Tue Apr 06, 2004 20:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There isn't much point in calling the person that Tim identifies as a detective a "pig". It is true that he behaved in a piggish manner: attempting to intimidate, sneering, refusing to ID himself. However it does as you say detract from these points to put that simple label on him because many people will see me using that label and ignore the fact that he behaved like a pig.

So, you're right about that.

author by Niall Flahertypublication date Wed Apr 07, 2004 14:56author email flahertyniall at eircom dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do you think the Piggy smoked it?

Related Link: http://www.niallflaherty.com/forces
author by Lone Gunmanpublication date Tue Apr 13, 2004 23:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Imust remember to spell better for idiots who can come up with no better arguements than to pick on spelling mistakes.Pathetic really.

author by Sean Connollypublication date Fri Jan 07, 2005 21:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dont be angry at our people blame the government. You all think Americans are smart asses but they helped Ireland more than you can imagine! Im from America and there are thousands of Irish that have no problem with America

author by Sean Connollypublication date Fri Jan 07, 2005 21:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I did not vote for Bush so be mad at that fecker

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