Probe over crash where 'plane fell out of the sky', killing Irish pilot
Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30
Tributes have poured in for an Irish pilot described as a "true gent" who was killed alongside four others during a horrific plane crash in Hawaii.
Tullamore native Damien Jimmy Horan (30) was flying a single engine light aircraft being used by a group of skydivers at 9.30 am (local time) on Monday, when witnesses said the plane "fell out of the sky" and burst into flames.
An investigation into the tragedy has been launched
According to local reports, the Cessna 182H plane had only lifted off the runway when its engine began to sputter and fail.
Four of those on board were killed at the scene, while a fifth person later died in hospital.
Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are examining the wreckage of the plane.
Retired Air Force mechanic Cisco Campos said he was fishing Monday morning when he saw the Skydive Kauai plane take off and noticed that the engine sounded strange.
In an interview with Hawaii New Now, he said the plane was only about a flag pole's height off the ground when the engines appeared to be sputter and then cut out. Campos said the plane looked to be turning back to the airport when the engine caught fire and burst into flames.
The plane "fell out of the sky," Campos said, and exploded on impact.
Widely travelled, Damien had been living in Hawaii for a number of months following an extended stay in Tammin, Western Australia.
A local source said it had always been the young pilot's dream to live in the US, because his mother was American. "We only got the news this morning...everyone who knew him is in shock. You could never have met a more genuine guy."
Local Tullamore councillor Thomas McKeigue said: "A stunned silence has descended on the area.
"Damien's family would be well-known to most people in the town as his father is a stone-cutter...for this to happen to them is unbelievable.
"This will be a big blow for them. He was the oldest child and had been away for a number of years seeing the world."
The family are understood to be making preparations to travel to the US.
On Facebook and Twitter there was an outpouring of grief when news of the young pilot's death was announced.
"Cannot believe I'm even writing this...To a true gent, may you rest in peace," wrote one person.
While another described him as "the most gorgeous bloke you could meet".
Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy offered her condolences to the Horan family, saying: "This tragedy will leave a huge void for Damien's parents, extended family and friends. I know the wider community in Tullamore will do everything they can to assist them."