Man killed in light aircraft crash in Kilkenny named locally
The man who died after his light aircraft crashed in Kilkenny last night has been named locally as Richard ‘Dick’ O’Connell.
The builder and stone mason was the only one in the micro-light when he collided with electricity poles and came down in a field near his house in Clara at about 9 o’clock.
He has three children – one in his early 20s and two teenagers.
KCLR News understands a birthday party for one of his teenage children was taking place in the house at the time of the crash.
Eye-witnesses said the aircraft narrowly missed nearby houses as it came down.
Kilkenny Gardaí have told KCLR a forensic examination of the scene and aircraft has been taking place today, while his body has now been removed to University Hospital Waterford for post mortem examination.
Gardaí say, while they do have a number of witnesses from the party, they would like to hear from anyone in the area who saw what happened.
The Air Accident Investigations Unit has also sent inspectors to the site.
Describing what happened to the plane, Leo Murray, inspector of air accidents with the Unit said, “It was quite a light little airplane. The pilot was the sole occupant and he was operating from a private strip quite close to the accident site.
“He had taken off and was doing just a local flight and sadly he collided with some electricity poles – quite a severe impact.”
Matt O’Keeffe was a neighbour of Mr O’Connell’s:
“Dick doesn’t live very far away and we’d know him well. Our kids are all the same ages.
“It’s a huge shock and a tragedy for the parish. He’s a very well-respected and liked person and we express our sympathies to his family obviously.”
He was also well-known for his building and stone work, and Matt says, “some of the work he did on stone work around the area will stand the test of time after him. He was a craftsman.”
An avid flyer, Matt says Mr O’Connell would regularly be seen flying his micro-light in the area: “For many years he would’ve been flying around… Very proficient and you’d hear it buzzing in the sky before you’d see him.
“He just loved to be up there. It was a regular feature of summertime in Clara that you’d hear and see Dick up in the skies.”