One of the victims of Tuesday night’s plane crash has been named as Hillsborough businessman Philip Murdock.
Two people died in the tragedy at Newtownards Airport on Portaferry Road around 8pm.
The other victim is believed to have been a young woman, although her identity has not yet been confirmed.
Both were members of the Ulster Flying Club.
According to Kernan Aviation Flying School in Craigavon, Mr Murdock completed his first solo flight in January 2018.
He was CEO of Craigavon based company Envision Intelligent Solutions, which he founded 11 years ago. He has over 20 years of experience in the security industry.
The tech company declined to comment on his death.
The company was named Innovation of the Year at the UK Security and Fire Excellence Awards in London last December.
It won for developing a turnstile product during the Covid lockdown designed to keep construction site workers safe.
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart paid tribute to Mr Murdock, whom she knew both personally and professionally.
“He was a lovely man with a great business mind. Obviously this is devastating news,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.
“My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his entire family and that of the other victim.
“Deaths are always tragic, but these circumstances are [particularly] awful.”
The day before the tragedy, Mr Murdock flew his niece from Newtownards to Prestwick in Scotland, completing the journey in 22 minutes and writing online that he was “delighted” with it.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch, together with specialized officials from the PSNI, have launched an investigation.
Ulster Flying Club said: “On behalf of the Chairman, Directors, Members and Staff of the Club, it is with great sadness and regret that we announce the tragic news that two of our members lost their lives in the plane crash at our airfield in Newtownard’s.”
An eyewitness said the plane crashed into a hedge near the Cloud 9 restaurant.
A woman working in the reception area at Londonderry Park Sports Pavilion, opposite the airport, said she “couldn’t sleep” after witnessing the disaster.
“I think the pilot tried to return to the airfield,” Alana said, not wanting to give her last name.
She was driving down Portaferry Road with her brother when they noticed the plane passing close by at very low altitude.
“I think he was trying to get away from every crash site where there could have been more casualties,” Alana said.
“He could have continued flying over Castlebawn but he actually turned around and possibly tried to land.
“He could have landed in the parking lot or downwind over traffic.
“If the wind had knocked him over the first time he wobbled…if he’d flipped over then, it [the plane] could have landed right on us.
“It’s possible he also drove into the garage or onto the main road, so there could have been many more casualties.
“Fair play for him. I think he was trying to get to the airfield where it would be [fewer] Losses.”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/businessman-killed-in-accident-flew-niece-to-scotland-the-day-before-his-death-41856262.html Businessman killed in accident flew niece to Scotland the day before his death