An RAF plane veered far off course in 1987, intruding more than 50 miles into the Republic’s airspace and causing diplomatic angst over what apparently was a genuine navigational error by an inexperienced pilot.
The flight by a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver – an aircraft which had been used at the time by the RAF’s Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (Northern Ireland) – reached as far as Mullingar.
A briefing document prepared for the Secretary of State ahead of a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in February 1988 told Secretary of State Tom King that the Irish side may raise the issue.
“There is widespread scepticism that the incursion by a Beaver aircraft on 30 December was simply an accident,” the briefing said.
“However [word underlined] as the Irish have already been told, this regrettable incident was [underlined] simply due to inadvertence on the part of an inexperienced pilot.
“All concerned have been severely reprimanded. We very much hope there will be no repetitions.”