Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Death-crash plane stalled in storm

An Irish Army helicopter removes the plane wreckage following the crash
An Irish Army helicopter removes the plane wreckage following the crash

A small plane that crashed into a mountain killing four people including two teenagers stalled and nose-dived in stormy conditions, it emerged.

The single-engine plane was on its way from Gloucester in England to Co Kildare in the Irish Republic when it plummeted into the remote bogland on October 2008.

Experienced pilot Sharif Booz, 47, his wife Margaret O'Kennedy Booz, their teenage son Aymon and his friend Charlie Froud, all died in the tragedy in the Wicklow mountains.

The Irish Government's Air Accident Investigation Unit believed Mr Booz became disorientated while flying in almost storm force winds and low cloud. Investigators said visibility was poor and the plane more than likely turned in the direction of the wind and dramatically lost speed before the crash.

Experts described an aerodynamic stall - caused when the airflow over the wing forces the plane down - close to the top of Corriebracks at about 1,500ft. The report found Mr Booz probably did not know where he was in the final stages of the flight and flew towards high ground.

The mangled wreckage of the small aircraft was discovered with its nose embedded in boggy terrain, near the summit in the west of the county on the morning of October 26.

Despite Mr Booz clocking up more than 760 hours in the air, investigators noted the flight was taken in weather conditions over Ireland which were not safe and a lack of planning contributed to the pilot getting disorientated.

But the Air Accident Report noted Mr Booz would have been a confident pilot and able to fly in poor conditions. Mr Booz, a property developer, from Almondsbury, near Bristol, had flown several times from Gloucester to Kilrush where it is understood the family had a second home.

Investigators found he had checked weather conditions in the days before the crash, accessing the UK Met Office and Ireland's Met Eireann services on his laptop.

But there was no evidence he checked the weather on his computer on the day he left, or that he contacted Kilrush airfield, although it was noted he could have used other sources. The report also questioned why Mr Booz closed his flight plan with air traffic control 24 miles from Kilrush but it suggested he may have felt radio communication would have been difficult in mountainous terrain.

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