Belfast Telegraph

Pair walk away 'with hardly a scratch' after plane ploughs into hill

By Cate McCurry

A pilot and co-pilot had a miraculous escape when they walked away from their aircraft after it crashed into the side of a mountain in Castlewellan.

The man and woman suffered minor injuries after the microlight aircraft came down in heavy fog enveloping Castlewellan Forest Park.

Eyewitnesses said they saw the low-flying plane disappear into the fog before hearing it crash near the mountain top.

The pair were able to escape from the wreckage before police and emergency services arrived.

They were treated at the scene for their injuries.

It's understood they suffered cuts and bruises and were badly shaken.

The pilot, understood to be from Kernan Aviation in Tandragee, Co Armagh, and co-pilot made their way down the mountain on foot and did not require hospital treatment.

Pictures of the crash show the plane's wing caught in a tree while the body of the light aircraft came to a stop on the ground.

Sinn Fein councillor Pol O Gribin, who was at the scene minutes after the crash, said it was a miracle the pair survived.

"They walked out of the plane - they had barely a scratch on them," he said.

"It was unbelievable and a miracle they walked clear of the crash.

"The plane approached the mountain in thick fog.

"I have lived in this area for 37 years and I have never seen fog so thick.

"The plane dropped down so quickly and disappeared.

"I was talking to some eyewitnesses and they said they could hardly see the plane in the fog.

"They said it happened so quickly when it was coming into the side of the mountain at around 80mph.

"A lot of the trees at Castlewellan forest have been cut down but there's a small patch of trees at the peak of the mountain, and that's where the plane crashed."

The plane, which came down near Dolly's Brae, was a training aircraft.

It's understood its broken wing helped reduce the impact.

"It broke the plane's fall before it hit the ground and that saved them," Mr O Gribin added. "They wouldn't have been able to see what they were crashing into.

"It could have been so much worse."

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service tweeted: "Following aircraft crash in Castlewellan the two patients, male and female, were discharged at scene following assessment by paramedics."

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