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Meet the pilot spreading lockdown cheer with his sky-painting skills

PUBLISHED: 11:21 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 June 2020

Pilot Tony Walsh flying over Sea Palling. People have enjoyed seeing him loop-the-loop during lockdown Picture: Tony Walsh

Pilot Tony Walsh flying over Sea Palling. People have enjoyed seeing him loop-the-loop during lockdown Picture: Tony Walsh

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Things have been looking up for pockets of people marooned in their gardens and in bunches on the beach.

People on the ground in lockdown have been enjoying the soaraway sklls of pilot Tony Walsh a hobby and sports pilot who competes internationally Picture: Tony  WalshPeople on the ground in lockdown have been enjoying the soaraway sklls of pilot Tony Walsh a hobby and sports pilot who competes internationally Picture: Tony Walsh

For a daredevil pilot has been entertaining families in lockdown with his sky-painting prowess.

Tony Walsh has been performing loop-the-loops and a host of nail-biting stunts in the skies above east Norfolk as he trains for international competition, perfecting his well-honed moves and leaving behind picture-perfect trails of white smoke.

With numerous images being posted on social media and people hailing the mood-lifting effects of his spectacular turns and rolls, the 62-year-old has become an unwitting lockdown sensation.

Mr Walsh, a father of four, who lives with his partner in Filby, said he was stunned by the feedback and delighted that people were enjoying his skills.

Tony Walsh's Extra 300 plane is a familiar sight over east Norfolk Picture: Tony WalshTony Walsh's Extra 300 plane is a familiar sight over east Norfolk Picture: Tony Walsh

A hobby pilot who competes at international level - his British team came third in the world aerobatic championships last year - he said he liked to fly three or four times a week, taking off from the airfield in Ludham.

MORE: Photographer captures lockdown life on the doorstep with dozens of family portraits

Usually he flies over the Acle marshes but had been taking trips to the coast and a flying ‘visit’ to wave at his grandchildren in Martham - just to make people smile.

“I have been doing three or four minutes at a time with a bit of smoke and two or three manoeuvres in a few locations,” he said.

“And most people enjoy it.

Tony Walsh from Filby flies over the coast. His antics have been bringing cheer to people impressed by his skills Picture: Tony WalshTony Walsh from Filby flies over the coast. His antics have been bringing cheer to people impressed by his skills Picture: Tony Walsh

“If you do it in the same place or for a protracted period of time people can get fed up because of the noise so I only do a few minutes.

“And while it might look like I am over houses it is always over the sea or fields.”

He stressed that the plumes of smoke were environmentally friendly, a baby oil-type solution that vaporised in the heat.

In the first phase of lockdown his two-seater Extra 300 remained in the hangar, but relaxed rules meant he was now able to fly on his own.

Performing a few moves for his daughter’s housebound father in law had led to sky hops over Sea Palling, Caister, Ormesby and south along the coast to Gorleston and the James Paget Hospital as part of his practice routine.

“It’s all good fun and if it is giving joy to other people then that’s even better,” he said.

Mr Walsh, an app developer, takes around 30 thrill-seekers up in his plane a year to cover the costs of its upkeep.

To find out more visit www.aerobaticexperience.co.uk or click the link here.


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