INVESTIGATIONS are under way into the cause of a light aircraft crash which injured a flight instructor and his pupil yesterday after the craft plunged 2,000 feet from the sky.
The two-seater Pegasus came down in the Ballyduggan area of south Tipperary at about 11.30am yesterday, close to Slievenamon mountain and the village of Mullinahone.
The microlight craft had left Kilkenny airfield minutes earlier with instructor Vincent Vaughan bringing a pupil on a training flight.
It’s understood the pupil — whose identity was not released by gardaí as his relatives were in the process of being informed — is from the Ballincollig area of Cork. Aged 46, his injuries were described as “serious” by the emergency services and he had to be airlifted from the scene by the Coast Guard helicopter which travelled from Waterford airport to help with the rescue operation.
The man was brought to Waterford Regional Hospital where medics performed emergency surgery yesterday afternoon.
The instructor, Mr Vaughan, is 48 and lives in Mullinahone with his family and was also injured in the crash. It’s believed he sustained a leg injury and was brought to hospital by ambulance.
Vincent Vaughan runs a flight training business and is also well-known locally as a musician, playing at concerts and functions across the region. His family are deeply involved in the GAA with the Mullinahone club.
The Pegasus aircraft being used by the two men during the flight was described by gardaí as an “engine-powered glider.”
One was sitting in front when the crash happened while the other was sitting at the back of the craft, which was badly damaged.
Officials from the Air Accident Investigation Unit travelled to the scene — bogland near wooded area about two kilometres from Mullinahone — and are trying to establish the cause of the crash.
Local speculation suggested the aircraft may have lost a wing while flying near Slievenamon, causing it to fall 2,000 feet from the sky.
Gardaí and several fire service vehicles and ambulances rushed to the area after a report of the crash was made by a local who witnessed the incident.
Meanwhile, 27 people had a lucky escape on Monday night when a plane had to make an unscheduled landing in Dublin when the pilot noticed a crack in the windscreen.
The Air Southwest flight from en route from Newquay in England to Glasgow in Scotland, which had 24 passengers and three crew members on board at the time.
The plane was ordered to travel to Dublin airport after the potentially lethal scenario was identified as the flight travelled over the Irish sea.
Air traffic control in Dublin was told by crew the seriously cracked windshield may have been caused by “arcing at the windshield heating element.”
The crack was reported to have “continued to expand while on approach to Dublin” before the pilot landed the plane safely on runway 28 at 6.20pm.
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