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Exactly 50 years after he left New York for California in a single-engined plane and flew to Dublin by mistake, "Wrong Way" Corrigan is to return to Ireland in style.

The intrepid aviator who misread his compass and flew east instead of west is being flown back by the Irish national airline Aer Lingus on July 18, an airline spokesman said on Wednesday.

Corrigan, now 81, hit the headlines world-wide in 1938 when he left New York for California. He and his small Curtiss Robin plane ended up at Dublin's Baldonnel Airport to the astonishment of Irish officials.

He received 250 cables of congratulation from leading figures like Henry Ford and Howard Hughes.