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Ospreys wing flying high

Guinness PRO12 Editor

31 Aug 2010

Only the sky is going to be the limit for Ospreys flyer Tommy Bowe this season.

The man whose tries helped the Ospreys win the inaugural Magners League Grand Final last season swept the board with all the individual honours as he scooped the Irish and Welsh Players’ Player of the year titles and rounded things off with the Magners Players’ Player Award.

But as well as focussing on the try line, the Ireland and British & Irish Lions wing sensation also has his eyes firmly fixed on the skyline these days.

The 26-year-old has followed in the footsteps of team mate Ian Gough by taking to the skies and learning how to fly.

"I was rooming with Goughie one day and he told me all about his experiences of flying. I had wanted to do something on my days off during the week in Wales and thought why not,” explained Bowe.

"I've had 16 hours worth of lessons so far and I want to get my licence for a two-seater Ikarus. The lessons are going really well and I'm really enjoying it.

"I never thought it would be something I would get into – in fact I thought it would just be one trial flight. It's definitely something different and it's great fun.”

Two former Irish internationals, Richard Wallace and Victor Costello, have both become commercial pilots, while Gough has been flying for a good number of years now. So what sort of future has Bowe in the air?

“I'd love to have a licence to be a pilot. It would enable me to fly back to Ireland and, hopefully, I will be able to do that in future.

“It would probably take three hours to get home and I'd try and land in a field near my house. It may be a bit more expensive than nipping on a Ryanair flight, though.”

There may be nothing that strikes fear into the Irishman’s heart on the field of play, but he does admit to having a few nerves when he gets airborne – especially on his own.

“I went up on my own for the first time a few weeks ago and did both a take-off and a landing,” he added.

“It was pretty scary not having an instructor beside me and I had difficulty understanding the radio calls.

“Ian was up at the time and he heard I was up for the first time so he warned everyone in the air to give me a 50-mile radius. It came across on the radio and didn't help my nerves!

“Landing is hairy when there is a stiff cross-wind, but it's only a tiny plane. I can't really do too much damage.

“It’s really nice to fly around and see different areas of Wales especially over the Gower, which is absolutely beautiful.

“I've driven around the place plenty of times by car, but, from up above, I never realised how many outdoor swimming pools people have in Wales – the people must be fairly optimistic with the weather!

“A few of the Irish lads are interested in planes but whenever I offer to take them up they don't seem too keen! It’s not dangerous and unless something freakish happens I feel safe in the sky.

“I’m trained by top-class pilots so I haven’t anything to worry about – until I land in the middle of the Liberty Stadium by accident!”