Saturday 24 February 2018

Norbrook pilots killed in 1996 Cooley crash

NEARLY 20 years ago, a helicopter that was on its way to back to Edward Haughey's stately home near Kilkeel crashed in a remote part of the Cooley Mountains, killing the three crew on board.

It was December 12 1996 when the Sikorskys S-76B helicopter, on route to Mr. Haughey's home at Ballyedmond, crashed into the north face of the Carlingford Mountains at Ballyoonan, Omeath, as it made its descent to Warrenpoint.

Three pilots on board from England were killed in the crash, which happened around 6.15 p.m.

An air accident investigation highlighted pilot error as a cause of the crash at Ravensrock. The UK-resigtered helicopter was one of two owned by Norbrook Industries but the pilots had been told to retire for the night and no-one was waiting for them at Ballyedmond to raise the alarm when they didn't arrive.

It wasn't until the next morning that the search was started, with help from an Air Corps helicopter that was raised from Baldoyle. The crashed Sikorskys was found shortly before 3 p.m.

A ground team was mobilised with gardaí, Irish Army personnel and a local sheep farmer with knowledge of the area but they failed to find the wreckage after four hours' searching.

The search team was strengthened with the arrival of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue teams who joined in the hunt for the wreckage, which was located that night on very steep and inaccessible terrain.

This helicopter crash was the first fatal air accident to happen in North Louth since WWII.

The Argus

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