Helicopter pilot in miracle escape from crash
A BUSINESSMAN is recovering today after being forced to make a terrifying helicopter crash-landing in a field not long after take-off.
A small, two-seater Robinson 44 aircraft piloted by businessman Michael Mannion crash-landed five miles outside of Athlone at around 8pm on Sunday evening.
It is understood Mr Mannion, who is in his thirties and who runs a successful quarry business in Bealnamulla, Co Roscommon, had just taken off from the Ballinasloe Horse Fair when the aircraft got into difficulty.
The businessman, who runs R&M Quarries, was alone in the aircraft at the time of the accident.
The aircraft crashed ten miles away from the fair at Taughmaconnell. Miraculously he walked out of the wreckage shaken but unharmed. An experienced pilot, Mr Mannion has his own landing strip at the back of his home in Co Roscommon.
Chief air-accident investigator Jurgen Whyte told the Irish Independent the emergency services were first alerted to the incident when a beacon signal from the aircraft was picked up on Sunday evening.
Each helicopter has its own individual signal with an identifying serial number which usually goes off as a result of an impact.
This beacon is monitored by a satellite which then notifies the emergency services who can trace the aircraft to its owner. A full technical examination is under way at the Department of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Unit in Co Meath.