Communities mourn loss of two men killed in training flight crash
Investigators removed the wreckage of a small aircraft in Co Offaly yesterday as communities in Offaly and Tipperary mourned the loss of two popular men.
The remains of pilot instructor Niall Doherty from Roscrea, and flight student Damien Deegan from Crinkle, Birr, were taken from the aircraft shortly before 11pm on Sunday. The men, members of the Ormand Flying Club, had been on a training flight when the aircraft crashed in rough terrain close to Birr airfield at 4.45pm.
Investigators removed the single-engine, two-seater Cessna 150 from a field shortly after 2pm yesterday. The front of the aircraft had suffered severe damage.
Inspector with the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU)Paul Farrell attended the crash site at Clonkelly Upper, Birr, on Sunday night.
“The emergency services assisted in the removal of the remains of the two occupants,” he said.
Mr Farrell said “it happened relatively close to the airfield in what appears to be a small plantation type of field with low-growing trees.”
He returned to the scene with a colleague to conduct a detailed technical examination yesterday. They examined the aircraft, crash site and conducted a photographic survey.
The aircraft was then removed to a holding site before being transferred to an AAIU facility in Co Meath.
“It was quite difficult terrain to work in, so it required a heavy vehicle to take it out of the terrain,” he explained.
An experienced pilot in his early 30s, Niall Doherty had worked for commercial airlines.
He comes from a well-known business family in Roscrea, Co Tipperary.
Local councillor Denis Ryan (FG) said: “The place is stunned, just can’t believe it, this chap was so popular around the place.”
He described Mr Doherty as a very able pilot who had previously flown for some Irish commercial airlines. As with his family, “they would be very thorough and exact about everything they do. There would be no risks taken,” he added.
Mr Doherty’s family runs a hardware business and supports a lot of community and voluntary organisations, Mr Ryan added.
Damien Deegan, who was in his late 20s, lived only kilometres from Birr airfield. He worked in a local supermarket and was the vice-chairman of Crinkle Handball Club.
Club spokeswoman Serina Dempsey described the mood in the community as one of shock. “A more genuine heartfelt guy you would not meet,” she said.
“He loved the flying, he adored it. He would save up a few bob – he worked at Tesco to do it.”
Mr Deegan also coached children at the handball club and was well known and liked. He took part in a charity skydive at Birr during the summer when John Joe Nevin was in attendance, Ms Dempsey said.