ONE OF MY FAVOURITE planes, operating from one of Ireland's most pleasant venues, crashed yesterday and took the lives of its pilot and its seven year old passenger. The plane was a Cessna Caravan (in the photo) and it had just finished a parachute drop on a lovely day from the Clonbullogue Airstrip.
At the controls was an experienced instructor pilot. Up front of the pilot was a throaty Pratt & Whitney PT6A engine with a propellor that quickly pulls its load of jumpers up to altitude for the best adrenaline rush in Ireland. I was on Enid's Woodring Airport when the first Caravan earned its certification in 1982. One flew to Enid from its factory 90 air miles northeast of the Oklahoma airfield where I was a Certified Flight Instructor. I saw the Cessna Caravan in Africa, Alaska, in FedEx colours in the southeast US, and as a black U-27 with Hellfire missiles.
I talked to Fran Curry on TippFM about the tragic accident, reflecting on some of my own antics, and promised myself that we'll make another family trip up to the warm and friendly Skydiving Ireland crew to watch the happy people finishing their jumps, listening to the aircraft fly overhead, and enjoy some of the apple pie in the airfield cafe.
If you're in Ireland, you should consider making the trip to Clonbullogue Airfield in County Offaly. It's one the most pleasant places I've ever visited.
[Bernie Goldbach is a certified flight instructor (CFII SEL MEL) who has logged more than 3000 hours, landing on six continents. He was an aircraft accident investigator and a flight safety officer while based at Vance AFB in Enid, OK in the 1980s. Main photo from Cessna Aircraft. See several of Bernie's flying snaps on Flickr.]