Family gathers for funeral of tragic mircolight pilot Stephen
The family of an amateur pilot who died following an accident at Ards airfield are preparing to say their final farewells.
Stephen McKnight (55), from Hillsborough, Co Down, was flying a C12 microlight aircraft on Tuesday morning when it crashed shortly after take-off.
An eyewitness described seeing the plane leave the ground and seeming to struggle to gain height, before eventually veering to one side and nose-diving into the ground.
Emergency services were on the scene within minutes and found the pilot still trapped in the wreckage.
Mr McKnight was taken to the Ulster Hospital but later died of his injuries.
Air accident investigators are looking into the cause of the incident, but it could be some time before a report is released.
It is understood that Mr McKnight, who had significant flying experience, was on his own in the two-seater microlight - believed to be owned by a syndicate of Ulster Flying Club members - when the crash happened.
Members of the club, which runs Ards Airfield, were shocked at the sudden loss of one of their tightly-knit group.
Flying instructor Ken Crompton, who has used Ards airfield for the last 30 years, said the incident was the only severe accident there in living memory.
Mr McKnight was also the secretary of Dromore Walking Club and had worked as a policeman and driving instructor.
It is understood that he had retired from the PSNI two years ago after 30 years of service.
It has also been reported that the pilot had recently been given the all-clear following a battle with cancer.
His funeral will take place at Hillsborough Presbyterian Church this morning.
Mourners will then travel to Glasnevin Crematorium in Dublin for committal.
Mr McKnight is survived by his wife Rosalind and his sons Michael and Gavin.