POLICE have named two men killed after their light aircraft crashed into a Highland hillside, just 300 metres from holiday cottages.
In a statement Police Scotland said while formal identification is yet to take place, it is understood the occupants of the light aircraft were Andrew Thompson, 37, from Chester and John MacKinnon, 53, from Ross-shire.
Meanwhile, investigators were yesterday continuing their examination of the wreckage of the small aircraft which came down en route from Inverness to Dundee.
A massive search and rescue operation involving the RAF, RNLI, coastguards and police eventually located the two-seater plane at a hilltop at Outfield Farm next to Pitmiddle Wood, near the village of Abernyte, Perthshire, around 4pm on Sunday.
The alarm had been raised by staff at Dundee Airport after the aircraft, which left Inverness Airport earlier that morning, disappeared from their radar. Its last radar position was four miles west of Dundee Airport, just before the pilot requested permission to land. It had been due to land at midday.
Weather was reportedly poor at the time it went missing, with heavy rain, fog and wind gusts up to 35mph.
Rescuers discovered the wreckage at 4pm about ten miles west of Dundee and later confirmed the deaths of those on board.
Yesterday, an occupant of Outfield Farm, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the three holiday cottages had been occupied at the time of the incident. “Yes, there were people in the houses, they were all full,” said the local resident.
“I didn’t hear the aircraft come down and the first we knew anything was up was when we heard the helicopter. We found out through all the police and coastguard who were around all day.”
Last night a spokeswoman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed that an investigation was under way but said that no information would be released until the investigation was complete.
A statement on the AAIB website confirmed that a team was heading to Perthshire.
It said: “The AAIB has deployed a team to investigate a light aircraft accident near Dundee.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Joint investigations to establish the full circumstances of the crash will continue and formal identifications of both deceased will take place in due course. As with all sudden deaths a report will be sent to the procurator-fiscal.”
He also confirmed that officers were remaining on the scene.
“Inquiries into the incident are ongoing,” he said.
The search for the small aircraft had initially been concentrated near the village of Errol before the search was narrowed down.
A coastguard search and rescue helicopter then spent several hours flying over the Sidlaw Hills behind Kinnaird until the aircraft was located.
A command centre was set up at the Scottish Antiques Centre at Abernyte for search teams, Scottish Ambulance Service staff and mountain rescue officers.
Specialist equipment including a tracked quad bike was necessary to get to the crash site.
Last month David Rous, 28, an engineer and his wife Margaret Ann, 37, a GP, were killed when their Piper Cherokee crashed into a remote Argyll hillside at Bein Nan Lus, above Loch Etvie, south of Oban.
The couple, from Newport-on-Tay in Fife, were heading from Dundee to visit relatives on Tiree.