Flybe, the largest airline operating out of George Best Belfast City Airport, has paid a unique tribute to the 1974 British & Irish Lions squad.
'The Invincibles', a specially named Q400 aircraft, has been unveiled in the presence of the squad members including captain Willie John McBride, by Fred Kochak, Flybe Routes Director, accompanied by Andrea Hayes, Flybe's Regional Manager North.
The legendary players, who were flown in from Scotland, England and Wales by Flybe, lined up to watch the unveiling and included Fran Cotton, Alan Morley, JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Andy Irvine, Alan Old, Roger Uttley, Gareth Edwards, JJ Williams, Phil Bennett and Billy Steele.
The Irish stars comprised Willie John, Syd Millar, Mike Gibson, Fergus Slattery, Tom Grace, Jonny Moloney, Stewart McKinney and Dick Milliken.
Fred Kochak explained: "In May 1974 a squad of 34 rugby players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales formed the British & Irish Lions squad to travel to South Africa. They were to play against a country not beaten in 78 years.
"When they returned in July 1974, having won 21 of their 22 matches and drawing the other, they returned as 'the Invincibles' and are widely regarded as the greatest northern Hemisphere side of all time.
"Their passion, commitment and determination is legendary and we are delighted to make our own unique tribute to what they achieved and the values they continue to represent.
"Dedicating an aircraft to such sporting icons is our special way of saying congratulations and a thank you to 'the Invincibles'. As she flies across the Flybe route network, we hope that 'the Invincibles' will act as an inspiration to others."
From today the Flybe Q400 OE will feature a life size image of Willie John McBride framed within a set of rugby posts. Below the cross bar are listed the 34 names of the full 1974 British & Irish Lions squad. Alongside the image is the new name of the aircraft, 'the Invincibles'.
Flybe has previously named five other aircraft to honour local sporting heroes - George Best and Mary Peters in Belfast, Kevin Keegan in Newcastle, Matt Le Tissier in Southampton and Adam Stansfield in Exeter.
The Ireland Wolfhounds, sponsored by Three and coached by Dan McFarland and Richie Murphy, host England Saxons at the redeveloped Irish Independent Park, with this annual encounter offering players on both sides a chance to push for Six Nations selection.
Irish Rugby TV went behind the scenes at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations in the Hurlingham Club in London. It was a case of 'lights, camera, action' as Joe Schmidt and Paul O'Connell spoke to the assembled media to preview rugby's greatest Championship.
Ulster youngster Iain Henderson talks about his return from injury after seven months on the sidelines. He will play for Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday, as competition increases for Six Nations selection.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt speaks about player injuries ahead of the start of the RBS 6 Nations, his side's title defence, the challenge of facing Italy away first up and mentions some of the players who might feature for the Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday.
Newly-appointed Ireland Women's captain Niamh Briggs chats to Russell Hargreaves at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. She talks about her captaincy role, the uncapped players who have come on board and the mood in camp ahead of next week's opener away to Italy.
Speaking at the 2015 RBS 6 Nations launch, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell comments on matters both provincial and national as he looks forward to leading his country for the defence of their Championship crown.
Ireland Under-20 head coach Nigel Carolan looks forward to the 2015 campaign and discusses the objectives for his squad this season. There is a strong emphasis on player development at this level which Carolan believes is important in bringing young talent through to the professional game.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's clash with Australia, Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock said: "We need to bring the defensive physicality we had against South Africa, as Australia have threats all over the park. We need to be at the top of our game."
As the countdown continues to Ireland's GUINNESS Series showdown with Australia, number 8 Jamie Heaslip talks about the Georgia game and what it will be like to face an 'old friend' in Michael Cheika this Saturday.