A young Air Corps pilot was killed during a training exercise in Co Offaly this afternoon.

He was 2nd Lieutenant Raymond Heery, from Oldcastle, Co Meath. The 22-year-old was commissioned as an officer 18 months ago.

Lt Heery was flying a four-seater Cessna when it crashed shortly after take-off in Clonbullogue just before 1pm. He was the only person on board.

The Irish Parachute Club runs an airfield near the village which is used by the Air Corps parachute section.

The pilot had been on duty carrying parachutists to and from Baldonnel.

The Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, said he learned with great sadness of the tragic accident.

President McAleese has expressed her great sadness following the death of Lt Heery.