Crash pilot's mother pays tribute to 'action hero' son
Published 11/02/2011 | 14:32
The grieving mother of a young co-pilot killed in the Cork air crash described her son as "an all-action hero" devoted to a flying career.
Andrew Cantle had only been with Manx2 for a fortnight when the plane he was flying crashed on landing yesterday in thick fog.
Ann Cantle revealed her husband John saw the first reports of the accident while on the internet but initially thought their son was safe.
"Immediately my husband thought that it was not Andrew because he told us he was due to do a Royal Mail flight," Mrs Cantle said.
"That was the one glimmer of hope that we were clinging to."
Andrew Cantle, 27, had previously spent eight years volunteering on the RNLI lifeboat out of Sunderland and helped rescue 66 people off north-east England.
His mother, who works as a teaching assistant, said he was determined to have a career in the skies either as a pilot or as a winch man on helicopters.
"That's all he has ever wanted to do in his entire life," his mother said.
"He was just like an all-action hero. He just wanted to do anything like that. All he wanted to do was commercial flying.
"From being six or seven years old that was his total life."
Mr Cantle joined Manx2 after his previous employer, Aeronova, could only offer him a temporary contract. He moved to the commuter service after they began hiring English-speaking pilots.
The couple found out their son had died after ringing Manx2 and asking if he had been on the flight.
Mr Cantle met his girlfriend Beth Webster at Salford University while studying aviation technology and pilot studies. They had been living together in York.
His mother recalled a trip to London a few years ago where the family spent the first hour and a half on the roof of Heathrow watching planes.
She said Andrew did not consider his career dangerous.
"The lifeboat was a dangerous thing and that was voluntary. But he was so trained up in the lifeboat and he had all his qualifications for the pilot," she told RTE Radio.
"He obviously knew the risks, but we knew the risks with RNLI. He used to go off in the middle of the night and went out to sea to save somebody."
Mr Cantle began volunteering with Sunderland RNLI in 2000 under the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and spent eight years at the station before moving to York to take up his career as an airline pilot.
The RNLI said Mr Cantle had taken part in 65 emergency missions and helped rescue 66 people.
Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said lifeboat colleagues were in deep shock.
"Everyone involved with the lifeboat station is in total shock about the tragic loss of a very close and dear friend," Mr Nicholson said.
"While serving as a volunteer, Andy was always keen to learn new skills and always did everything to a very high standard, whether that was taking part in a rescue mission or helping promote the RNLI at a fundraising or promotional event.
"Since leaving the crew in 2008 he has kept in constant contact with the crew and was a regular visitor to the station whenever he was back in the area.
"Our sympathies, best wishes and support go to his parents, family and girlfriend at this extremely difficult time."