An Easter holiday trip turned to tragedy when a young couple’s private plane crashed into a hillside.
Engineer David Rous and his wife Margaret Ann, a doctor, of Newport-on-Tay, were flying from Dundee to spend the weekend with family on the isle of Tiree when the accident happened.
Their PA28 Piper Cherokee light aircraft crashed into a remote hillside at Bein Nan Lus, Glen Kinglas, above Loch Etive south of Oban on Saturday.
The plane went off radar at 1:50pm and a huge air, land and sea search for the missing aircraft led to the discovery of the couple’s bodies just over six hours later.
Mrs Rous, thought to be 37, was the daughter of Mrs Catriona Maclean, a widow, and had a sister, Joanne MacLean, who both live on Tiree.
John Macaskill, vice-convener of Tiree Community Council, said: “It’s absolutely tragic what has happened. It’s very sad, especially with them coming home for Easter. It’s a major blow for the community. Family and friends, as is done in Tiree, will gather round to support Mrs Maclean in her grief.”
It’s tragic, especially with them coming home for EasterJohn Macaskill
Another Tiree resident added: “Margaret Ann and her husband were coming up to stay with her family for the Easter weekend. They had their own plane.
“She went to school here but left the island quite a long time ago.”
Yesterday an incident base remained at the emergency services rendezvous site at Inverawe.
Dr John Holliday, the island’s doctor for almost 30 years and convener of Tiree Community Council, said: “I had known Margaret Ann since the 1980s. She captivated everyone that knew her; she was absolutely gorgeous in every way.
“She became a much-loved GP in Dundee and I have no doubt that she was a wonderful doctor with her charm and great empathy. She immediately touched the hearts of everyone who came into contact with her.”
Dr Holliday added that he had also met Mr Rous, thought to be 28, when he had visited Tiree.
He added: “He was a really nice man and a very talented structural engineer with a bright professional career ahead of him. Together they made a fine couple. We can only imagine what the family must be suffering. A cloud has fallen over Tiree, but the island community will come together as it always does at times like this.”
Iain MacKinnon, station officer of the Oban volunteer coastguard team, who was part of the group searching the shores of Loch Etive on Saturday, said yesterday: “At the loch surface it was almost perfect visibility but in terms of using the rescue helicopters, they were very restricted because the cloud was down to 100 metres; it was way down on the hill, particularly the area where the crash site is – that was over 700 metres. They took the mountain rescue guys as high as they possibly could and dropped them on it (the hill) to walk up from there.”
He added: “The problem with a plane crash is a plane is going quite fast. A plane will go at 100mph – it’s a fair impact at that kind of speed.”
Aviation expert David Howitt, who retired recently after managing a small airfield at Glen- forsa on the isle of Mull for 50 years, said the aircraft appeared to have been on the normal route for travel between Dundee and Tiree.
He said the Cherokee aircraft the couple were flying was renowned as one of the most reliable light aircraft and was often used for training purposes.