Investigators seeking footage of final moments of flight that killed pilot
An experienced pilot may have recorded the crash which claimed his life as he flew his new plane for only the second time, investigations have revealed.
William Hillick, aged in his 40s, died when the stunt plane he had bought just over a month earlier crashed beside the Abbeyshrule airfield, Co Longford on Sunday March 20.
Two GoPro cameras were fitted to the single seater Laser Z200, one above the engine and the other on the left wing tip facing the cockpit.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) is working to recover footage of the final seconds of the aerobatic flight.
Mr Hillick had taken delivery of the plane just one week before the crash and had only flown it once, on St Patrick’s Day, also at Abbeyshrule.
The AAIU said initial checks of the cameras showed viewable recordings appear to stop as the skilled flier made his sixth circuit of the popular aerodrome near the Royal Canal.
Witnesses on the ground reported how Mr Hillick continued aerobatic manoeuvres above the airfield, including 360 degree rolls, and on the seventh circuit of the airfield the plane came down nose first into a nearby field.
The AAIU said the ma jority of the 15 minute flight was recorded and it was working to access the final files on the cameras’ micro SD memory cards.
“It is likely that the files were corrupted due to the interruption in power during the impact sequence,” investigators said.
“The AAIU is currently working to recover any additional data from the micro SD memory cards and camera units. Further analysis will be required in an effort to determine the various heights and speeds of the aircraft during the flight.”
Mr Hillick, from Mullingar, had spent the day flying to the Aran Islands and back with friends before taking off in his single-seater plane for some aerobatic flying over Abbeyshrule on their return.
The experienced pilot owned CQ Communications on Dublin’s Ormond Quay.
Abbeyshrule airfield, just off the N55 road from Athlone to Granard, is near the Royal Canal and is used by a number of light aircraft enthusiasts and companies.