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Architect’s trip to Africa is off to a flyer

An architect from Cork has launched his attempt to fly from Ireland to Africa on a craft powered by a two-stroke lawnmower engine.

Oisín Creagh left Belfast on his charity expedition yesterday morning and flew over the Irish Sea to Scotland. By yesterday evening he had started to travel down to Dover, a leg of the journey that is expected to take him two days.

The 52-year-old, who will be followed by a support team, must land every three hours to refuel the craft

He was not able to talk for long but said: “I’m crossing the Pennines, I will ring you later.”

Wellwishers posted messages of support for the 52-year-old on Facebook. He is flying to raise money for Gorta-Self Help Africa, a charity aimed at tackling rural poverty in Africa.His departure was delayed for eleven days due to poor weather conditions.

Mr Creagh is aiming to become the first person to use a paramotor — essentially a powered paraglider — for a journey that will take him across England, France and Spain before arriving at his final destination in North Africa.

While travelling down to Dover, Mr Creagh will be followed by a friend in a campervan. Crossing the UK will prove difficult as relatively heavy air traffic and a high number of airports mean that much airspace is restricted.

Once on the south coast, he will cross the English channel to Calais, continuing over France and Spain. Finally he will cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, travelling between 50 and 60 kilometres per hour.

The paramotor is powered by a motorised propeller blade mounted on a rucksack-like frame. The two-stroke engine, which must be refuelled every three hours, is similar to that of a lawnmower.

Mr Creagh, who is one of Ireland’s top paramotor enthusiasts, has raised €6,000 so far for the charity.

A spokesman for the Ireland-based Gorta-Self Help Africa said that Mr Creagh’s adventure has had a positive impact in highlighting the organisation’s work in communities across Africa.

“As an organisation that works in long-term agricultural development, it’s difficult to get media coverage. When we do have great supporters doing fantastic things, it is a way of drawing attention to the work that we do and the importance of it,” he said.

“Oisín has been great. His initial interest was in the awful migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the number of African people that were drowning and dying while trying to make that transition across to Europe. At the same time, he recognised that the solution to that is in creating viable opportunities for these people in places where they come from, so they don’t feel the need to migrate for economic reasons,” he added.

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