'He said he loved me. Now he's not coming home' - pilot's mum
The mother of the pilot who was killed in a plane crash on Sunday has said she was always afraid when he was flying.
A heartbroken Margaret Hillick paid tribute to her son William (45) through tears of sorrow after it was learned his new plane crashed at the Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, killing the father-of-five.
William was well known in Dublin where he ran a popular tech shop on the city's quays.
"He told me he loved me before he left. Now he's not coming home," said Margaret from the home she shared with William in Knockmant in Mullingar.
"Flying was his hobby. He never drank or smoked. He was the best in the world. He really looked after me after my husband died 11 years ago, and I moved in here with him.
"He was so good to me. I loved him so much. I wish God would have taken me instead.
"Every time he went flying I would worry about him. I felt so happy when he would walk through the door, but now he's not coming home."
William has five grown-up children and was not in a relationship at the time of the crash.
Padraic Gallogly, a friend of William's from the Abbeyshrule Microlight Flying Club, said he was devastated to hear of the news on Sunday.
"He was a great aviation colleague and his loss is a devastation to his commuinity and family, not only in flying but at home as well," he said.
He offered his sympathy to William's family.
Mr Gallogly was not in Abbeyshrule when the crash happened, but he confirmed it was in the confines of the aerodrome but not on the runway.
"It was in an area adjacent to the runway, but not on the runway itself. The Air Accident Investigation Unit are carrying out a full investigation," he said.
Mr Hillick died after the single-seater plane came down at around 6pm on Sunday evening.
He was the owner of the family-run GQ Communications shop on Ormond Quay that sells tech and camera equipment as well as surveillance products.
He was also an avid aviator and martial arts instructor.
Locals in Abbeyshrule said a number of planes had been performing a series of acrobatic stunts before the incident.
William's neighbour on Ormond Quay, Panem cafe owner Raffaele Cauallo, said he was shocked to hear the news.
"This is very, very sad. We have been friends and neighbours for 20 years. He even took me flying with him one time around 18 months ago," he said.
"I heard he bought a new plane recently. I assume that is the one he crashed in.
"It is terrible. William was always safe and calm in a plane. Very calm and very talented," he added.