Longford helicopter-crash pilot arrested at Dublin Airport

The pilot of a helicopter which crashed into a pub in Co Longford has been arrested.

Gardaí said the man was detained on suspicion of endangerment after the Gazelle aircraft smashed into the back of the Rustic Inn, Abbeyshrule, last night.

Dramatic video footage filmed by locals and on CCTV captured the helicopter hovering a few feet above the Royal Canal before part of its propeller clipped the pub and spun the tail into the timber frame.

Two men were on board, both of whom walked away from the wreckage, reportedly escaping with only minor injuries.

Teddy and Betty McGoey, owners of the Rustic Inn, revealed their own narrow escape.

They had gone into a back function room to investigate after hearing the helicopter hovering low overhead for a few minutes. They were standing on the dancefloor when the impact blasted a 10-foot wide hole in the wall.

A small window was also shattered to pieces, spraying shards of glass inside.

Mr McGoey declined to be interviewed but said he was hit below the eye while his wife’s glasses were blown off her face.

Gardaí said the arrested man, aged in his early 60s and from the UK, was detained at Dublin Airport.

The second man on board was David Bruton, an award-winning aerobatic pilot and owner of Midland Aviation which is based at Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, about one mile from where the crash occurred.

The company declined to comment.

The accident happened at 9.15pm last night.

The helicopter is registered as g-BXTH on the Isle of Man with the Civil Aviation Authority recording the owner as Mannifest Live.

It was built in 1973 and the owner had a permit to fly which was due to expire next month.

The video footage, which is being examined by the Irish Government’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), showed it was only a few feet off the ground when the collision wrecked a new section of accommodation built last year.

The CCTV shows a third man move picnic tables from where the helicopter had made an initial approach to the canal bank seconds before the pilot hovered a few feet above the water.

The helicopter ended on its side on the narrow bank.

Ciaran Doyle, 14, from Aughnacliffe, Longford, was in Abbeyshrule last night with his father Padraic and recorded the minutes leading up to the crash.

“The impact was very fast but very noisy, it was shocking,” he said.

“It flew around at the back of the village and it went quite high but then it came down towards the canal and it started to hover very low.

“As I was taking a video for about five minutes it hit off the Rustic Inn and flipped over on its side.

“I used the phone that I had been videoing with and phoned the emergency services.”

The AAIU removed the wreckage after several hours on site inspections and the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch and the Civil Aviation Authority have been notified.

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