Tribute paid to air corps officers killed in Connemara

The loss of two young air corps personnel who died when their plane crashed in Connemara last year reminds us all of the “risks and dangers that can be associated with a military career”, according to Minister of Defence Tony Killeen TD, who paid tribute this week to the two men.

While welcoming the publication of the Department of Defence and Defence Forces Annual Report for 2009 on Tuesday, Minister Killeen remembered the two members of the air corps who died when their plane crashed in October 2009, stating that although there has been great successes in the defence forces there has also been great sadness.

“A year of so much visible and tangible success was tinged with great sadness. The loss of two young air corps personnel, Captain Derek Furniss and Cadet David Jevens, who tragically lost their lives in the course of a flight training exercise, reminds us all of the many risks and dangers that can be associated with a military career,” he said.

Captain Derek Furniss (32 ) from Ballinteer, Dublin, and Cadet David Jevens (22 ) from Glynn, Wexford, died when their Pilatus PC-9 two seater aircraft crashed on the evening of October 12, 2009 at Crimlin East, near Cornamona on the Galway-Mayo border.

The two pilots had been taking part in a training exercise along with two other air corps planes. The three planes had left Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, in Dublin seperately and had been noticed by locals doing manoeuvres in the Cornamona area. Two of the aircraft landed at Galway Airport for refuelling but the third was reported missing at 6.20pm.

Rough and rocky terrain and the requirement for army ordinance experts to first remove the ejector seats delayed attempts to recover the bodies of the two pilots. A full examination by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU ) was carried out the following morning and the bodies were removed from the scene later that afternoon.

Investigations by the AAIU has so far found that that the plane had “no techical defects”. However, further investigation is on-going and a final report is due to be published in the coming months.

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