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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 12:33 GMT
Mercy air crew search called off
Pilot Guy Henderson
Guy Henderson, 40, was pilot of the crashed air ambulance
The search for a pilot and a paramedic who were on an air ambulance which crashed into the sea off the west coast of Scotland has ended.

Pieces of the aircraft's undercarriage and a 15m object have been found on the seabed off the Kintyre peninsula.

The Islander aircraft, operated by Loganair, was preparing to land at Machrihanish airport when it went down.

The pilot has been named as Guy Henderson, 40. He was accompanied by paramedic John Keith McCreanor, 35.

Mr Henderson, from Broxburn, and Mr McCreanor, from Paisley, were flying from Glasgow to Campbeltown to pick up a sick child when contact was lost shortly after midnight.

A statement released by Strathclyde Police on behalf of Mr Henderson's family said they were "devastated, but consoled by the fact that he was working in his lifelong ambition to fly above the Highlands and Islands of Scotland".

Three lifeboats, two helicopters and two rescue teams were involved in the search about eight miles offshore, along with HMS Penzance, a navy minesweeper.

I feel sad for the pilot and paramedic and how close it could have been
Audrey McKillop

The wreckage was found in deep water by a remotely operated vehicle lowered from the warship to the seabed.

Two experts from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch have arrived in Campbeltown to begin their inquiry into the cause of the crash.

A spokesman for RAF Rescue Centre, Kinloss, confirmed that the twin-engined plane had been on its way to pick up an 11-year-old boy with "severe abdominal pains" who was to be taken to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow.

No distress call

Brett Cunningham, Coastguard area operations manager, said: "We were alerted through the air traffic control system just after midnight, but the aircraft had not put out a distress call.

"The wreckage includes the undercarriage, lifejackets and various other debris and is spread over quite an area.

"The weather was not a factor and there was no indication of anything in the area that would have played a part."

Loganair Islander air ambulance
The Loganair Islander which crashed into the sea

It is understood there was low cloud at about 400ft at the time the plane disappeared, although wind and rain were light.

The aircraft is one of three operated for the Scottish Ambulance Service by Loganair, based in Glasgow, Lerwick and Kirkwall.

Loganair chief executive Jim Cameron said 230 people worked for the company, about 90 of whom were pilots.

"Our greatest sympathy goes out to his nearest family as well as his wider family," he said.

Adrian Lucas, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said the flight had been "relatively routine" and that Islanders had been extensively used by the service for years.

Family's shock

The family of Craig McKillop, 11, who was to be picked up by the air ambulance, spoke of their shock at the accident.

His mother Audrey McKillop, 40, from Drumlemble, near Campbeltown, told the Scottish Press Association: "I'm shaking. Obviously I feel sad for the pilot and paramedic and how close it could have been.

"It could have been on the way back instead of on the way here. I'm shaking and my stomach has been churning all day.

"All I can say is that I do send my condolences. You do rely on these people to come and take you to the hospital, it just happened to be my little boy last night."

Her son, who had a burst appendix, was taken to hospital by road ambulance for an operation after the crash.

Scotland's airborne life-savers
15 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Air ambulance change takes flight
26 Jan 05 |  Scotland

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