Thursday 19 April 2018

'Queen of the Sky' - Family of heroic Captain Dara Fitzpatrick pay tribute to her in poem one month on from tragedy

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick

Kathy Armstrong

Tragic Rescue 116 Captain Dara Fitzpatrick has been named "the queen of the sky" by her heartbroken family in a poignant new poem.

Dara's sister Niamh has shared the verse that was written in her honour on her social media account.

She said: "Poem about Dara by my cousin Stephen Fitzpatrick. I read it at her month's mind Mass. "Banríon Na Spéire" (Queen of the Sky)."

The verse pays tells the heartbreaking story of the mission and honoured brave Dara, saying::

"A call, a calling,

"A mission, a mercy,

"Top cover needed, Rescue 116 heeded,

"A tragedy, a search,

"Brief hope and a prayer,


"A mum, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend,

"No matter which, it isn't the end,

"Brave to the core, her spirit will soar,

"For the queen of the sky was destined to fly."

Read More: Coast Guard safety must be a priority

Dara died  after a Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 116, crashed into Blacksod Island, off the Mayo coast, killing all four people on board.

Left to right: Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciarán Smith
Left to right: Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciarán Smith

The remains of Dara (45) and her co-pilot Mark Duffy have been recovered but the search continues for their colleagues Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith.

A preliminary report published last week found that the database of the helicopter's sophisticated terrain avoidance system, the EGPWS, the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, did not have details on it of Black Rock island or its lighthouse.

The crew of R116 were relying on a programmed navigational route to Blacksod which should have helped them in their approach and should have warned them of Black Rock island.

The AAIU report makes two safety recommendations: that CHC Ireland should review and re-evaluate all route guides. It also makes a recommendation relating to the location in the lifejackets of locator beacons and the GPS antennae that operates them.

The beacons in the lifejackets of the crew of R116 were worn in the same pouches as the GPS. The manufacturers' manual says the two pieces of kit should be 30cm apart. It recommends that the lifejacket makers, RFD Beaufort Ltd, should review the installation provisions and instructions.

Read More: Wreath ceremony remembers tragic R116 crew

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