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Tribute paid to tragic gyrocopter crash victim in the Highlands

Paul Nichol, victim of the gyrocopter crash in the Highlands.
Paul Nichol, victim of the gyrocopter crash in the Highlands.

Tributes have been paid to the victim of a tragic gyrocopter crash in the Highlands.

The 67-year-old, named locally as Paul Nichol, died yesterday after the  aircraft he was flying crashed into a field near Avoch.

It is believed Mr Nichol, from Balloch, was only on his second solo flight when the tragedy happened.

Police are now appealing for anyone who was in the area to come forward if they saw the aircraft as it flew from Inverness.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is probing the crash, which happened around 12.55pm.

A spokesman for Highland Aviation, who operated the gyrocopter, said: “We are all devastated by the loss of our friend, and our deepest sympathies goes out to the pilot’s family and friends.

“We are assisting local police and AAIB as they investigate this tragic loss.

“The flying school is currently closed and will reopen on Monday. We would ask everyone to respect our privacy, and that of the pilot’s family at this time.”

A source said Mr Nichol, from Balloch, made his first solo flight at the weekend, and that the accident was his second flight.

Detective Inspector Brian Geddes said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the man who sadly lost his life, and we will have officers providing support at this difficult time.

“Inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are ongoing. We have already spoken to a number of people who witnessed the crash, however, we are appealing to anyone we haven’t spoken to, to get in touch.

“I would also urge anyone who might also have images or video footage of the gyrocopter in the air or during the incident to please contact police either via 101, quoting incident number 1385 of 12 November, or via the online portal set up for this incident.”

Detectives have set up an online portal to encourage members of the public to submit information, which is found at: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/SCOT20S30-PO1

One woman described seeing the aircraft “fall out of the sky” after its propeller came off.

Kathy Taylor, who lives locally, was walking her dog when she saw the gyrocopter “flying very low” before vanishing from view. By the time she reached the site, the machine was on fire.

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