Dara Fitzpatrick Fondly Remembered By Waterford Colleagues
A crew member from the Irish Coast Guard helicopter missing off the west of Ireland, who was pulled from the Atlantic but died, has been named as Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, a member of The Irish Coastguard who is fondly remembered from her time spent in Waterford as part of the crew of Rescue 117
Dara was 45 years of age and had served with the search and rescue service for over 20 years.
An extensive search and rescue mission is ongoing for her colleagues Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby.
Dara had successfully carried out and rescue missions for over two decades and was decorated with honours and earned a place in the aviation history books.
After getting her own licence at a young age, Dara worked for a for a year, year-and-a-half in business, when the Coast Guard advertised for co-pilots.
Speaking to the Munster Express during her time at the Waterford base she explained
“That was at a time when Shannon was the only Coast Guard helicopter base in the country so I applied for it and got it. I stayed there until 2002 and came over to Waterford and I love it here.”
After mastering a single engine aircraft, she then became familiar with a twin engine and then flying the aircraft by instruments rising through the ranks to become one of the service’s most experienced crew members
Dara also enjoyed a stint based in Aberdeen, flying onto oil rigs, gaining her valuable experience as a helicopter pilot and crew member
However, it was not too long before Ms Fitzpatrick rejoined the Irish Coast Guard service, which was at this stage under under the employment of CHC which is the company currently contracted to provide the helicopter service,
In 2010 she recieved an award for her role in rescuing a stricken pilot when his light aircraft crashed into the Irish Sea. and shortly afterwards came into the public realm when she featured prominently in a fly-on-the-wall documentary series which aired on RTÉ
Three years ago, she landed a place in Irish aviation history, as one of two female Coast Guard pilots who successfully piloted the first all-woman mission for the service.
The mission at the time was to transfer a cardiac patient from west Co Cork to Cork University Hospital before transferring a critically-ill five-year-old child from the hospital to Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin. Ms Fitzpatrick later returned to her native Dublin to become captain of the Coast Guard helicopter base in the Irish capital.
In a career and life ended much too soon, Ms Fitzpatrick was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean at around 7am on Tuesday the 14th of March, six hours after the helicopter vanished without alerting authorities to any danger and sadly passed away a short time afterwards
The search for her colleagues and the wreckage of the 116 helicopter, a Sikorsky S92 continues[Image: Independent.ie]