Tragic pilot was a skilled flier and aircraft enthusiast
A man who died after his new plane crashed in a field next to a rural aerodrome has been remembered as an enthusiastic and skilled pilot.
William Hillick, aged in his 40s, died after his single seater came down on land beside the Abbeyshrule airfield in Co Longford at about 5.45pm on Sunday evening.
Local people reported that pilots had been practising manoeuvres and aerobatic flying in the skies over the village for most of the day.
It is believed Mr Hillick, a father of two who owned CQ Communications on Dublin’s Ormond Quay, had passed tests to display aircraft and had recently bought a Laser 200.
He had previously flown Slingsby ex-military training aircraft and posted videos online of himself in the air.
From Mullingar, he frequently flew from the Midlands airfield.
Gerry Humphreys, a chief aerobatics instructor at Atlantic Flight Training Academy, flew aircraft for Mr Hillick before he secured his UK Display Authority.
“He was a nice guy, very enthusiastic,” he said.
“I flew with him and I displayed his aircraft once or twice. He was a real enthusiast about planes, about flying, about aerobatics. He had several sport type aircraft down through the years.”
Aviation accident experts were on the scene on Sunday night for three hours and returned mid-morning to examine wreckage strewn across the field.
Three officials from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport spent several hours on site after Mr Hillick’s body was removed.
They recorded wreckage and the general area before removing the pieces of the plane from the field as well as holding interviews with eye-witnesses.
Further analysis will be carried out at the AAIU examination facility at Gormanston, Co Meath, before a report is compiled on the incident.
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.
Last year two men miraculously escaped when their helicopter smashed into a pub less than a mile away in an attempted landing on the canal bank.
Dramatic video footage filmed by locals and on CCTV captured the moment the propeller of the Gazelle clipped the Rustic Inn and spun the tail into the timber frame.