Investigations under way after death of pilot in Longford

Man in his 40s died after plane crashed in Abbeyshrule Airfield on Sunday

William Hillick from Co Westmeath. File photograph:  William Hillick\Facebook

William Hillick from Co Westmeath. File photograph: William Hillick\Facebook

 

Investigations into the death of a pilot after a light aircraft crash in Co Longford during the weekend are continuing.

The man, named locally as William Hillick, died after a plane crashed in Abbeyshrule airfield just off the N55 Athlone to Granard Road at about 5.45pm on Sunday.

Mr Hillick, who was in his late 40s, was from near Mullingar in Co Westmeath and was the managing director of a Dublin tech shop.

He was the sole occupant of the aircraft. It is understood the aircraft crashed during an attempted landing.

Mr Hillick was pronounced dead at the scene.

A team of three officials from the Air Accident Investigation Unit, which is part of the Department of Transport, first arrived at the scene to examine the wreckage and site at 9pm on Sunday.

A spokesman for the unit said following initial examinations, the body of the pilot was released to emergency services.

When investigators stopped at midnight, gardaí secured the site overnight.

The spokesman said the investigations, which included interviewing witnesses and recording the wreckage and general area, resumed at 11am on Monday.

“The investigation continues and a final report will be issued in due course,” he said.

The wreckage and documentation will be brought to the unit’s examination centre in Gormanston, Co Meath.

An Garda Síochana is also investigating the incident.

Local Longford councillor Mick Cahill (FF) said the community was saddened by Mr Hillick’s death.

“My sympathies go out to the family. People are shocked when somebody is killed. Nobody knows what happened. It is very sad,” he said.

Mr Cahill said the airfield had a “steady flow” of regular visitors each weekend that used the recreational facility.

“I live close to it and it’s normal to have people fly-in and fly out on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They are always very nice. I think the last time there was a fatality like this in Abbeyshrule was in the 60s,” he said. “This is a tragedy.”

In July last year, the pilot of a Gazelle helicopter attempted to land the aircraft on a small strip of land between a pub and the Royal Canal in Abbeyshrule.

The helipcopter clipped the side of the Rustic Inn but both men who were on the aircraft walked away with minor injuries and nobody else was hurt.