Funeral tribute to helicopter pilot

Hampshire Chronicle: The coffin of Captain David Traill, the pilot killed in the Glasgow helicopter crash, is carried during his funeral at Glasgow University The coffin of Captain David Traill, the pilot killed in the Glasgow helicopter crash, is carried during his funeral at Glasgow University

Moving tributes have been paid to the pilot killed in the Glasgow helicopter crash as around 700 mourners attended his funeral.

A week after the tragedy that claimed nine lives, David Traill, 51, was described as "the greatest friend a man could hope for" in the service at Glasgow University.

Friends, family and former colleagues from the RAF and the emergency services gathered at Bute Hall for the memorial led by Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie.

The university chaplain said he was sure that Capt Traill's skills as a pilot with more than two decades' experience had prevented the loss of further lives on the ground when the helicopter crashed on to the roof of the Clutha pub last Friday.

Pub owner Alan Crossan attended the funeral along with Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Police officers, air ambulance pilots and paramedics formed a guard of honour as Capt Traill's coffin arrived at the university, the cortege led by police outriders and a friend of Capt Traill who rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Capt Traill, originally from Falkirk, was a former RAF pilot and instructor who served in both Gulf wars.

Since 2008 he was employed by Bond Air Services and worked as a civilian pilot for the Glasgow-based Scottish Air Ambulance and Police Scotland.

Mr MacQuarrie said: "David died in tragic circumstances when the helicopter he was flying plunged to the ground with little or no warning.

"From what I've learned in the last few days of this brave and courageous man, I'm absolutely certain that David would have done absolutely everything he could to safeguard his colleagues in the aircraft and people who were on the ground.

"I'm convinced that David's skills and experience indeed minimised the loss of life on the ground."

Capt Traill's father, Iain, sobbed as he read the David Harkins poem You Can Shed Tears to mourners. The widower had read the same lines at the funeral of his younger son, Angus, three years ago, the service heard.

Mr Traill, originally from Harris in the Outer Hebrides, had moved in with his older son and his fiancee, Lucy, over the summer following an illness.

Capt Traill, who is also survived by three nephews, was due to marry his partner whom he met on a blind date almost five years ago.

She said in a tribute read by the minister: "Dave was the best thing that ever happened to me. Things weren't exactly hard when we first met but he gave me the freedom to really be me for the first time.

"We met on a blind date which started off with a walk around a loch with the dog in Lochwinnoch. He told me he loved me from that day.

"I wasn't so convinced and thought 'That was a bit weird'. It took me a few weeks to catch up. But I did catch up."

She said Capt Traill "seemed too perfect" as she got to know him and learned about his passions - cycling, Scotland's west coast, fine dining, kayaking, Take That, and, "best of all", karaoke.

"It all seemed too perfect but there was no catch. He just adored me and told me every single day," she said.

"I knew Dave only for four years and nine months and three days, but they were all precious.

"He was the most amazing, caring, loving, strong, capable, funny, creative, delicious and sexy boy in the whole world and I cannot even begin to imagine life without him."

Mourners were invited to sing along to the Proclaimers' Life With You - a song that Capt Traill and Lucy had planned to play at their wedding, possibly for their first dance together as a married couple, the minister said.

Andy Rooney also paid tribute to his friend from their days in the RAF.

He said: "David, Dave, Davey, Swampy - he was different things to different people and he touched many lives.

"But there was a consistency to him that few could match and many could envy. The calm he offered, the warmth with which he was received.

"He was the greatest friend a man could hope for. A steady, loyal brother in arms."

Mr Rooney spoke of Capt Traill's "long and illustrious military career" but revealed to mourners that he did not like heights.

He said: "He knew how to enjoy life and share that joy. So, on this day in history, we remember Dave, our friend and trusted colleague.

"A much-loved and modest man. He will leave an enormous gap in our lives but he would want us to smile and live on.

"It is our duty to him, the finest tribute we can offer, to smile and to remember him, as he would wish, as a source of joy. To live well in his honour."

Prayers were said at the service for the eight others who died in the crash.

Police Constables Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43, were on board the helicopter. The six who died inside the pub were Robert Jenkins, 61, Mark O'Prey, 44, Colin Gibson, 33, John McGarrigle, 57, Gary Arthur, 48, and Samuel McGhee, 56.

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