Pilot and student die in aircraft crash
A flying instructor and a student pilot were killed when their light aircraft crash-landed in a field outside Birr in Co Offaly yesterday.
The deceased were named locally as instructor Niall Doherty from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and his student, Damien Deegan, from Crinkle near Birr.
The two men, one in his 20s and the other in his 30s, had taken off from the airfield at Birr, where the Ormond flying club is based, prior to the crash.
Their aircraft was flying south when it came down close to the airfield in the townland of Clonkelly Upper, Birr, shortly before 5pm. A member of the public is thought to have spotted the aircraft and raised the alarm immediately. It landed in dense undergrowth and there was a search for a time before the aircraft could be located.
Inaccessible terrain hampered rescue efforts and the Garda Síochána deployed its air support unit to help locate the crash site. A search and rescue helicopter, two ambulances and up to four units of Birr Fire Brigade were also involved in the search.
The aircraft was located upside down in a marshy field. Rescuers managed to access the site by foot but it is understood that both men were dead when they arrived on the scene.
Due to fears over hazardous aviation fuel, the remains of both men were left at the scene for a time last night. They were expected to be removed as soon as the site was made safe.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit, which is part of the Department of Transport, has started an investigation into the incident. Its remit is to determine the circumstances and the cause of crash.
A Garda investigation is also under way.