Reaching for the sky to help raise the roof

CLAUDY aviation historian Jonny McNee, who discovered a WW2 Spitfire in the hills of Inishowen, is to be the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner to help repair Culmore and Moville Parish Churches.

Under the title ‘Reach for the Sky & Raise the Roof’ a four-course dinner will be held at 8.30pm after Mr McNee’s talk which will get underway at 7.30pm on Saturday, February 23, at the White Horse Hotel, on Clooney Road, outside the city.

In addition to being an aviation fanatic and historian, Mr McNee featured in the BBC NI series ‘Dig WW2’ in May last year, working in the capacity of consultant, and was instrumental in highlighting the pivotal role Northern Ireland played in World War Two.

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It was as aviation consultant for the series, that Jonny found and excavated the now famous RAF Spitfire, which he and his daughter, Grace found deep beneath a peat bog in the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal.

The story of its young American pilot, Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe, who successfully baled out of his stricken fighter, the Canadian war time millionaire who donated the aircraft, the incredible state of preservation of the wreckage and the subsequent firing of one of the recovered Browning machine guns, served to catapult the story of the iconic aircraft onto the global stage.

Since this discovery of the aircraft Jonny McNabb has been much in demand as a public speaker and significant artefacts recovered from the Spitfire excavation will be on display for the ‘Reach for the Sky & Raise the Roof’ event.

In addition, copies of the second, and final, print run of Mr McNee’s book ‘The Story of The Donegal Spitfire,’ which records the highs and lows Mr McNee experienced to ensure this unique excavation went ahead will be on sale. The story culminates with an emotional visit to the city and the crash site by the pilot’s two daughters to commemorate their father’s wartime career.

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A limited number of the final print run of the book will be available to purchase.

In addition to the four-course dinner, a four-course dinner at 8.30pm.

Commenting on the event, Mr McNabb said: “All money raised will go to fund essential building repairs for Culmore Parish Church and Moville Parish Church. Tickets priced at £35 are available from Ven Robert Miller, Archdeacon, or by emailing Robert on [email protected]

“This is the last chance for anyone to get a copy of the book. I am down to my last 60, out of a second print run of 1,000, and there won’t be a third reprint. I have four similar events in February and March so I expect they’ll finally disappear over the course of these events. Then I can look forward to doing something else...” Mr McNabb said.

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