Co-pilot killed in Cork plane crash from Sunderland

THE parents of the co-pilot killed in the Cork plane crash have paid tribute to their son.

Andrew Cantle pictured wearing his pilot uniform who died in the Cork air crash
Andrew Cantle pictured wearing his pilot uniform who died in the Cork air crash

THE parents of the co-pilot killed in the Cork plane crash have paid tribute to their son.

Andrew Cantle, 27, and Spanish colleague Jordi Lopez, 31, were making a third attempt to bring down the turboprop aircraft in thick fog after a flight from Belfast to Cork.

Both Mr Cantle and Mr Lopez died along with four passengers, including a relative of Ireland's President Mary McAleese. Six others aboard survived the crash.

Andrew's mam Ann, 56, of Sunderland, who works as a teaching assistant, said: "Andrew wasn't even meant to be on that flight - he'd only been in the job for two weeks.

"We didn't think he was meant to be flying - he told us he wasn't.

"He lived for planes. Being a pilot was all he ever wanted to do since he was a little boy."

Andrew was also a lifeboat volunteer in his hometown of Sunderland, and was said to be the youngest in the North East when he joined at just 16.

Andrew only left the charity when he went to study for a degree in aviation technology and pilot studies at Salford University

Ann continued: "He was very committed. He worked hard all his life to achieve his dream. After his degree he did a year's training at Cabair too.

"I used to worry about him going out when he first started flying, and also when he was out on the lifeboats.

"But he was fully qualified, confident and a good pilot, so I didn't feel I needed to worry quite so much.

"We're absolutely devastated. We heard about the crash on the internet, but we couldn't get through when we tried to phone the relatives contact number.

"Eventually we did, but it just isn't sinking in. We can't believe it.

"Andrew was a wonderful man. We just feel helpless."

Andrew, who has a 25-year-old brother, Kris, lived in York with his girlfriend, Beth Webster.

"Andrew met Beth at university as they were both studying the same degree," Ann added. 

"She had been accepted into the RAF but was told there were no jobs because of the cutbacks, so was waiting to fly helicopters in the Royal Navy.

"She currently works for Virgin Atlantic as an air steward.

"They loved each other very much - they'd been together for five or six years.

"I had to break the news to her this morning. She was just devastated. It was awful."

Andrew and Beth lived in Milton Keynes for a couple of years before moving to her home town of York.

His dad, John, 58, who works as a consultant engineer, said: "We're so proud of him."

Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said lifeboat colleagues were in deep shock.

"Everyone involved with the lifeboat station is in total shock about the tragic loss of a very close and dear friend," Mr Nicholson said.

"While serving as a volunteer, Andy was always keen to learn new skills and always did everything to a very high standard, whether that was taking part in a rescue mission or helping promote the RNLI at a fundraising or promotional event.

"Since leaving the crew in 2008 he has kept in constant contact with the crew and was a regular visitor to the station whenever he was back in the area.

"Our sympathies, best wishes and support go to his parents, family and girlfriend at this extremely difficult time."

Mr Cantle first became involved with the RNLI after taking up community service through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

After completing the scheme in 2001, he stayed on as volunteer lifeboat crew before being promoted to Inshore Lifeboat Helmsman where he served until 2008.

The RNLI said Mr Cantle had taken part in 65 emergency missions and helped rescue 66 people.

 

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