Search crews comb coastline for missing plane

Search crews will comb coastline around the northern part of the Coromandel Peninsular and the barrier islands today, hoping to find a small plane that went missing yesterday.

The home-built acrobatic biplane took off from Ardmore airfield near Auckland at 11:25 yesterday morning and dropped off the radar shortly afterwards.

A number of sighting reports from the public were being followed up, and the search today would focus on the areas mentioned, while consideration would be given to any new information received, said Rescue Coordination Centre Search and Rescue Mission Controller Greg Johnston.

The Auckland Westpac Trust helicopter will conduct a coastline search of the top part of the Coromandel Peninsular and the barrier islands while an RNZAF P3 Orion will be searching an area to the north and east of Great Barrier Island.

The 53-year-old male pilot from Mt Wellington was the only person on board the distinctive blue and white plane.

The alarm was raised by his partner who became concerned for his safety.

It is was believed the light aircraft had a potential range of around 300km in its fuel tank, which would have run out around 1.30pm, Mr Rendle said, contrary to earlier reports of a 700km range.

It was initially flying in a northeasterly direction towards Ponui Island.

Anyone who saw the plane or knows anything about its location is asked to contact RCCNZ on 0508 472 269.

 

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