Death crash pilot was very special’

PUBLISHED: 15:31 29 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:35 25 August 2010

RELATIVES and friends of a pilot killed when his plane was struck by an electrical storm in Congo have paid tribute to a great humanitarian .

RELATIVES and friends of a pilot killed when his plane was struck by an electrical storm in Congo have paid tribute to a 'great humanitarian'.

Ronnie Quinn, 57, from West Hill, Dartford, became one of the youngest captains in the Merchant Navy in his early 20s and dedicated his final years to flying humanitarian missions.

He was tragically killed, alongside two pilots and 15 personnel who included UN officials, when his plane was hit and crashed into a mountain ridge.

Following the horrific tragedy last month it took search teams three days to locate and recover their bodies from the failed humanitarian aid flight.

In a moving tribute his devastated sister Eileen Debouny, 67, of Horn Park Lane, Lee said: "He died doing something he loved - humanitarian work.

"He was such a special person."

A memorial service is due to take place at Our Lady Star of the Sea RC Church, Crooms Hill, Greenwich from 11am on November 6, what would have been his 58th birthday. Father John Lavery will conduct the service.

Mr Quinn was the youngest child of four and went to St Anselm's RC primary school, Temple Hill before attending St Stephens (now St Columbus) Catholic Boys school, in Gravel Hill, Welling.

After leaving school he became a businessman and owned two ships, before moving to South Africa to up-date his pilot licence and undertake flying missions for charities based in the country.

The horrific crash happened in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the Rwanda border.

Ground control lost radio contact with the crew as the plan made its landing approach on a journey from Kisangani to Bukavu on Monday September 1.

Rescue helicopters spotted the wreckage of the 19-seat Beechcraft aircraft a day later after Air Serv International, a US organisation that provides air transport to humanitarian groups notified authorities.

Air Serv is one of several entities that service the large community of aid workers operating in Congo, which is still suffering a humanitarian crisis triggered by a civil war between 1998 and 2003.

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