Leonard arrived at Irish Helicopters on 31 October and was introduced to the pilot of the helicopter, Captain Thompson Boyes. Boyes was instructed to fly to a field in Stradbally, in order to pick up Leonard's photographic equipment. After landing Boyes saw two armed, masked men approaching the helicopter from nearby trees. Boyes was held at gunpoint and told he would not be harmed if he followed instructions. Leonard left with one gunman, while the other gunman climbed aboard the helicopter armed with a pistol and an Armalite rifle. Boyes was instructed to fly towards Dublin following the path of railway lines and the Royal Canal, and was ordered not to register his flight path with Air Traffic Control. As the helicopter approached Dublin, Boyes was informed of the escape plan and instructed to land in the exercise yard at Mountjoy Prison.
In the prison's exercise yard, the prisoners were watching a football match. Shortly after 3:35 pm the helicopter swung in to land in the prison yard, with Kevin Mallon directing the pilot using semaphore. A prison officer on duty initially took no action as he believed the helicopter contained the Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan. After prisoners surrounded the eight prison officers in the yard, fights broke out as the officers realised an escape attempt was in progress. As other prisoners restrained the officers, Twomey, Mallon and O'Hagan boarded the helicopter. As the helicopter took off, in the confusion one officer shouted "Close the gates, close the fucking gates". The helicopter flew north and landed at a disused racecourse in the Baldoyle area of Dublin, where the escapees were met by members of the IRA's Dublin Brigade. The escapees were transferred to a taxi that had been hijacked earlier, and transported to safe houses.
Read more about this topic: Mountjoy Prison Helicopter Escape
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