Wednesday 13 December 2017

Young pilot fighting for his life after plane crash

Crash scene: the farmyard in Co Donegal.
Crash scene: the farmyard in Co Donegal.

Greg Harkin

A 22-year-old amateur pilot is fighting for his life in hospital after crashing his light aircraft into a farmyard.

Mark McLoughlin, from Buncrana in Co Donegal, was critically injured when his micro-light aircraft crashed short of a private airfield near Convoy.

There were strong winds in the area at the time of the incident, which took place just after 2pm yesterday.

"He's alive, thank God," said one local man close to the scene. "The way the plane was wrecked it's something of a miracle. We are just thankful that the rescue services got here so quickly."

Last night, the wreckage of the light aircraft could be seen lying on its side just yards from farm outbuildings.

The private airfield, owned by the Kilpatrick family, is less than 100 yards away.

Three ambulance crews and two fire crews attended the scene, fearing the pilot had been killed.

But Mr McLoughlin was pulled from the wreckage and stabilised at the scene.

He was transferred to hospital in Letterkenny 15km away by the Sligo rescue helicopter.

Gardai sealed off the scene for the Air Accident Investigation Unit, which started its inquiries last night.

It is understood they are working on the theory that the two-seater plane may have struck a farm building while on its landing approach.

Eyewitnesses have told gardai about seeing the plane earlier yesterday flying over the area, which is popular with amateur pilots. There are two private airfields in the area.

"It is certainly not an unusual sight around here to see those planes up," said a local farmer, "but this is the first I've heard of a crash like this. We just hope the wee pilot pulls through."

Last night, family and friends of the injured pilot were at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Irish Independent

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