Monday 10th September promises to be a momentous day in the history of Tyrone public transport when they launch their new Glider Service to rival the similarly named bus travel system currently changing the face of Belfast this week.
Red Hand Gliders, which will operate in mountainous areas seven days a week and only on windy days elsewhere, performed a dozen dry runs today with seven operators returning alive and well. The five yet to show up are presumed missing after strong gusts blew the lightweight gliders over the Sperrins into Derry territory.
With the Red Hand symbol on their vehicles in the hostile Oak Leaf county, chances of survival are minimal.
Operations manager Paul Quinn reckons up to three thin passengers can fit on the glider at any one time:
“On a very windy day, we calculate that a 3-berth glider could carry as far as 35 miles from a high start, say from Greencastle to Dungannon comfortably. A heavier man from a low altitude start could travel about 5 miles, or from Coalisland to Stewartstown in 50 mins. He might have to restart four or five times.”
Despite the probably tragic teething problems today, operators are expecting a 80% success rate from the service when officially activated on Monday.