The pilot of the plane that crashed at Newtownards Airfield on Tuesday was described as “kind, funny and loving” by his niece, who he was flying to Scotland two days before his death.
Tributes were paid to both Philip Murdock and the second victim of the fatal accident at Co Down, locally named Caroline Mawhinney.
The couple were pronounced dead at the scene after the light aircraft they were flying plunged into hedgerows near Newtownards Airport around 8.20pm Tuesday night.
Both were members of the Ulster Flying Club.
Hillsborough businessman Mr Murdock was Managing Director of Craigavon based company Envision Intelligent Solutions which he founded 11 years ago.
He flew his niece, Bethany Wade, from Newtownards to Prestwick on Sunday evening, completing the journey in 22 minutes and writing online that he was “delighted”.
“Phil will be so missed by the whole family,” Bethany told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Personally I can say that not only was he the friendliest, funniest and most loving uncle, but also a mentor who taught me so much. He tackled everything with enthusiasm. Most importantly, we are so grateful that he trusted in the Lord Jesus, and we take great comfort in knowing that we will meet again.”
The parent company of Mr Murdock’s company said it was “very saddened” by his death.
“We are very saddened by the news that Philip Murdock was involved in a fatal plane crash on Tuesday,” added the Johnson Controls team.
“Phil was Founder and Managing Director of Envision Intelligent Solutions Limited and was a passionate and charismatic member of the team.
“We understand that this news will affect everyone who has known and worked with him over the years and we would like to extend our deepest condolences to Phil’s family, friends and colleagues.
“The Envision team is a tight-knit team and we are supporting them and Philip’s family as best we can during this difficult time.
“Our thoughts are with his wife, parents, extended family and of course his Envision team.”
A statement from Douglas Funeral Directors at Ballynahinch said Mr Murdock was “the well-loved husband of Esther, the beloved son of Bertie and Wilma and the loving son-in-law of Jean and the late Eddie Deyermond”.
He was also the “dear brother of Paul and Elaine and a devoted uncle”. The statement added: “Philip will be sorely missed by all the family. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The funeral arrangements for Mr Murdock are to be announced at a later date.
At the time of publication, no details about Ms Mawhinney had been released.
Lisburn and Castlereagh Councilor Andrew Gowan said Mr Murdock was “a gentleman and so well regarded in the local community”.
“He and [his wife] Esther are just two of the most beautiful people to meet,” he continued.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Esther, the family circle and the church family in Growell.
“The Lord is near to the broken and saves the bruised.”
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart also paid tribute to Mr Murdock, whom she knew both personally and professionally.
“He was a lovely man with a great business mind,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Of course this is devastating news. My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his entire family and those of Caroline Mawhinney.
“Deaths are always tragic, but these circumstances are [particularly] awful.”
Eyewitnesses to the crash said Mr Murdock tried to steer the plane away from people on the ground, with one man calling the pilot a “hero”.
Independent Councilor Steven Irvine said his local football team was playing at Londonderry Park at the time.
“They saw the plane turn on its side. In hindsight, it may have been distressed and trying to avoid further casualties. Fair play to the pilot if that’s the case,” he added.
“This park is very busy with dog walkers, sports and kids in the play park.
“Two football games were taking place at that time – it would have been relatively busy.
“I just want to offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and those around them. God bless you.”
The Civil Aviation Authority’s Air Accident Investigation Branch, together with specialized officials from the PSNI, have launched an investigation into the fatal collision.
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.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/newtownards-plane-crash-pilots-niece-pays-tribute-to-a-kind-and-loving-mentor-41859488.html Newtownards plane crash: Pilot’s niece pays tribute to ‘a kind and loving mentor’