Northern Ireland

Pilot may have consulted out of date navigational chart

Helicopter crash recovery
Image caption The helicopter came down in an area known locally as Leitrim Lodge

An out-of-date chart at St Angelo airport may have been consulted by the pilot of a helicopter that crashed killing three men, an inquest heard.

Charles Stisted, Ian Wooldridge, and their pilot Anthony Smith died when their aircraft hit Shanlieve Mountain in the Mournes in October 2010.

They were from England and had been in Northern Ireland for a day of shooting.

The inquest in Belfast heard the map was made when flying over a flatter part of south Armagh was prohibited.

However, an official from the airport, just outside Enniskillen, said the chart was clearly marked that it was not for navigation purposes.

"They had their own charts and Mr Smith had a chart that was up-to-date and he would have known that it was the latest chart," said Alan Cathcart.

Mr Smith flew over the Mournes despite the lifting of a prohibition on travelling further south over flat land. It is unclear if he knew it was open to commercial flights.

The helicopter crashed in an area known locally as Leitrim Lodge, between Hilltown and Rostrevor.

Those who died were from south-east England.

Mr Stisted, from London, was chief executive of the Guards Polo Club at Windsor and a personal friend of the Prince of Wales.

Mr Wooldridge lived in Windlesham in Surrey. He was also a Guards Polo Club member and was a prominent figure in Harcourt Developments, the Dublin-based company involved in the development of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

The pilot, Mr Smith, lived in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

The accident happened after a day spent at the Baronscourt Estate in County Tyrone.

The inquest heard the weather was clear when the party left Enniskillen, but as they negotiated the Mourne Mountains, visibility worsened to less than 100m.

Mr Cathcart said the pilot was in "buoyant" mood and relaxed ahead of the flight.

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