Ocana Fest

A 2 day festival celebrating 40 years since the emergency landing of a Gulfstream 2 jet in Mallow Racecourse.

What its all about:

April showers bring May flowers but on a mid April morning in 1983 it brought Captain Ruben Ocana to land an air jet in the North Cork town of Mallow. With just 3 minutes of fuel left in the tank, the successful landing was a feat of aviation that made national and international headlines. Captain Ruben Ocana developed strong friendships with the people of Mallow during his extended stay as he and his crew awaited the building of a runway to take off again and fly the jet safely home.

April 2023 Ocana Fest celebrates 40 years since this event. We welcome the Ocana family back to Mallow to scatter the ashes of their dear departed father. The two day event will see Mallow come alive with all things aviation and Mexican, reigniting those memories and friendships. We invite you all to visit Mallow, explore, enjoy and take part in the many activities planned including Horse Racing, Aerobatic Airshow, Drone Racing, Children’s Workshops, Mexican food, dance, and music, on April 21st & 22nd 2023. Follow Ocana Fest on Facebook & Instagram for festival schedules and update.



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The Events of 1983:

The fog had lifted. The swans glided gracefully on a peaceful Blackwater all was well with the world when out of the skies came the Gulfstream II executive jet aircraft with its Captain Ruben Ocana, his crew and passengers. He had flown from Newark, New Jersey to Munich in Germany, fog had prevented him from refueling in Shannon and Cork airport was a flight too far.

Mallow racecourse was his only option and he was guided safely in by air traffic controller Jim Lalor. Captain Ocana felt he could take off again once the ground dried but the insurance company insisted on a 150,000 pound runway. Captain Ocana would spend 39 days in Mallow experiencing a Cead Mile Failte from Gerard Callanan as well as an official welcome by Mayor Willie O’Regan and Mary Kelly Sales Manager at Cork Racecourse.

Captain Ocana became an honorary Mallow man. He had heard about Irish hospitality now he was experiencing it. It was his first time on Irish soil yet he was well versed on the contribution the Irish (St. Patricks Battalion) had made fighting for Mexico against America in 1846-1848. He drew some rough sketches showing some of the battle terrain. Denis Sheehan and his wife Mary became friends with Captain Ocana and provided transport for him during his stay.

He and his crew brought a spark of brightness to the community.  Thousands of people visited the site at the race course and local expertise and materials were provided by Mallow Sugar Factory and Ballybeg Quaries.

When the runway was completed Monsignor James Horan paid a visit, it was an inspiration for him at the that time as he was trying to build a runway in Knock.

39 days was ample time for Ruben Ocana to make friends, soak in the history and culture and take back with him a love of Ireland and Mallow especially,

as well as making new acquaintances and unbreakable  friendship. His daughter Marianna visited the site and paid homage to the people of Mallow for the welcome and care shown to her father.

Join Ocana Fest on April 21st & 22nd and relive those wonderful days.


Cead Mile Failte Aris.

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