DUBLIN – A Cabinet minister escaped uninjured Monday after an Irish Air Corps helicopter carrying him lost a door in midair and made an emergency landing at a country club.
The Irish Defence Forces said Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen was seated next to the left-side door when it fell off at a height of about 500 feet (150 meters).
Cullen had just finished a speech to an Irish Hotels Federation conference in the southwest tourism town of Killarney and was being flown back to Dublin when the accident happened. The pilot landed the craft safely at the helipad of the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.
Air Corps inspectors were examining the damage to the helicopter, an Italian-made AgustaWestland 139.
Cullen, who later returned to Dublin aboard a different AgustaWestland, praised the three-man crew — Capt. Lee Brennan, Lt. OisDin McGrath and Airman Patrick Mahon — for performing "superbly. Full credit should be given to them for their outstanding skill."