Pilot saves lives of four skydivers after engine fails
A QUICK-thinking pilot was forced to make an emergency landing moments after take-off when the plane's engine suddenly lost power.
The experienced pilot brought the plane down safely not far from the runway.
His fast reactions meant that he and the four skydiver passengers were able to walk away from the plane unscathed.
The Cessna 206 came down shortly after leaving the runway at Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, halfway between Longford and Mullingar, on Saturday afternoon after a suspected engine failure.
Along with an experienced pilot, the plane was carrying two parachute instructors and two charity skydivers. All five people on board the light aircraft escaped without injury.
"The pilot was a good and experienced pilot with 20 years flying experience and he was able to successfully complete an effective emergency landing," said an eyewitness.
"I think that the plane had only got up to about 300-400ft so the pilot would not have had much time to react, which makes what he did even more remarkable."
The plane began to lose power shortly after take-off, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a field.
Earlier this year all of the pilots who use the airfield attended a training course, which one source said would have helped the pilot land safely.
Emergency crews were able to respond to the incident immediately, with another plane able to identify the landing site to ambulance crews and fire fighters.
"Fire fighters, paramedics and defibrillators were brought to the scene but thankfully none of that was needed," said the witness.
The Irish Aviation Authority confirmed that they were alerted to an incident in an uncontrolled airspace involving a Cessna 206 at about 1pm on Saturday but declined to comment further as the incident was subject to an Air Accident Investigation.
The plane was later removed from the scene.