Saturday 24 September 2016

'He was very calm and talented': friend pays tribute to tragic pilot who died in Longford air crash

Published 21/03/2016 | 13:07

Pilot William Hillick who was killed in Longford crash on March 20, 2016
Pilot William Hillick who was killed in Longford crash on March 20, 2016

The experienced pilot who died in an air crash in Co Longford has been named locally as William Hillick, who ran a popular tech shop on Dublin’s quays.

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Mr Hillick, who was in his 40s, died after the single-seater plane came down at Abbeyshrule Aerodrome at around 6pm yesterday.

Locals in the area said a number of planes had been performing acrobatic stunts before the incident. The scene was closed off as air crash investigators tried to establish what happened.

Instructor

Mr Hillick was well known in the midlands and Dublin. He lived in the Mullingar area and was the owner of the family-run CQ Communications shop on Ormond Quay, which sells tech and camera equipment.

He was also an avid aviator and martial arts instructor, and is known to have bought a new plane in recent weeks. It is believed that it was this model that crashed yesterday.

Read More: Man (40s) killed after single-seater aircraft crashes

The Air Accident Investigation Unit launched an investigation into the incident and was due to examine the scene and the remains of the aircraft.

Today, one of William’s neighbour on Ormond Quay – Panem cafe owner Raffaele Cauallo – said he was shocked to hear the news.

“This is very, very sad. We’ve been friends and neighbours for 20 years. He even took me flying with him once around 18 months ago,” he said.

“He bought a new plane recently. I assume that is the one that crashed. It is terrible.

“He was always safe and calm in a plane. Very calm and very talented. He was a good teacher and very smooth at landing.

“He has helped me so many times here in the cafe, too. If I ever had an electrical problem he would be in sorting it out. He was very good that way.”

On Mr Hillick’s own Facebook page it features photographs of his beloved aircraft.

Under the “favourite quote” section he had posted “live every day like it is your last – because someday you will be right”. He had only updated his profile picture on the site last Friday, two days before the crash.

A friend today posted an RIP message on the site attached to one of the photos that William had uploaded last week.

Longford Fianna Fail Councillor Mick Cahill described the incident as a terrible tragedy.

“I live a half-mile away and they had been up in the air all day,” he said. “There was nothing unusual all day, but one of them came down at about six o’clock and went into the ground. It is a terrible tragedy.”

Collided

Separately, a motorist in his 70s was killed in a horror pile-up in Cork. The man, named locally as Roland Sweetnam (72), died at the scene outside Mallow on the main Cork-Limerick road to Cork University Hospital just after 12pm.

Meanwhile, a male motorcyclist, aged in his early 30s, was killed when he collided with a car on the Trim Road, Warrenstown, Co Meath, shortly before 4.30pm yesterday.

Elsewhere, a male driver aged 40 was killed in a crash at Carramore, on the Roscommon to Athlone road, on Sunday evening. A female driver (44) and 15-year-old female passenger in a second car were also injured in the incident, which happened at 11.20pm.

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