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Sunday 25 June 2017

Elderly pilot dies in light plane crash after sending distress call

The scene of the crash in Waterford yesterday Picture: Patrick Browne
The scene of the crash in Waterford yesterday Picture: Patrick Browne

Conor Kane

An investigation has been launched after a man was killed when the light aircraft he was piloting crashed into a field in Co Waterford.

It is understood the man, the only occupant of the craft, had left Waterford Airport yesterday afternoon with the intention of flying to Dungarvan and back.

The pilot, aged in his early 80s, was named locally as Dave Ryan, a former member of Waterford Aero Club.

He issued a mayday call just before 4.30pm and attempted to land his single-seater aircraft in a field but crashed into trees close to the well-known Bridgie Terrie's pub and restaurant.

The incident happened near the N25, in the Knocknagranagh area outside Dungarvan, and is not far from the scene of another fatal light aircraft collision which claimed the life of a veteran pilot in 2015.

It is understood a Coast Guard helicopter crew picked up Mr Ryan's mayday message while they were flying on a training mission in the region and proceeded directly to the location of the crash.

The R117 search and rescue helicopter arrived at the crash site, which is also close to Dungarvan Golf Club, within minutes but it is understood the man was fatally injured and could not be resuscitated by that time.

Gardaí said it appeared the man was killed instantly when the aircraft hit the ground.

The nearby road was closed to traffic while fire engines, ambulances and gardaí attended the scene and diversions were put in place for several hours. Members of the Air Accident Investigation Unit were deployed from Dublin to the scene and were working at the crash scene last night.

"The likelihood is that we will recover the aircraft wreckage over the next day and hopefully we can recover the wreckage back to our facility," AAIU chief investigator Jurgen Whyte said.

Mr Whyte was speaking last night near the scene of the fatal R116 crash at Blacksod Bay in Co Mayo.

Sad

A woman in Bridgie Terrie's pub said the crash happened "just across the fields from us."

The location is close to the area where well-known and experienced pilot Howard Cox (67) was killed in July 2015 when on his way from Waterford Airport to an air show in Foynes.

Mr Cox died when his home-built "James Bond" BD5 mini-jet went on fire and crashed in the Garranbarane townland.

Irish Independent

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