The missing plane
Searchers conducting a coastal air search for a missing
bi-plane that disappeared yesterday are analysing possible
sightings reported by members of the public.
The small aircraft took off from Ardmore airfield, south-east
of Auckland at 11.25am yesterday.
The home-built aerobatic bi-plane, carrying only the
53-year-old male pilot from Mt Wellington, was heading in a
north-easterly direction when it disappeared from radar,
shortly after take-off.
No distress beacon was activated but the Rescue Coordination
Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) launched a search, after a friend
of the pilot reported concern for his safety.
Reported sightings by members of the public indicate the
aircraft may have continued flying in a north-easterly
The Westpac Trust helicopter from Auckland is searching the
northern end of Coromandel Peninsula coastline, and the
Tauranga rescue helicopter is conducting a coastal search
from Waihi to Whitianga. An RNZAF P3 Orion is searching up to
200km off the coast, to the north east of Great Barrier
RCCNZ Search and Rescue mission controller Neville Blakemore
said a number of sighting reports from the public were
continuing to be received and analysed.
"This information is very useful in determining search areas
and we are grateful for the help of the public with this
operation," he said. "This is quite a distinctive blue and
white aircraft and we are still interested in hearing from
people who may have seen it yesterday."
With the fuel on board when the aircraft left Ardmore, it
would have had a maximum range of around 350km. Fuel would
have been exhausted by about 1.30pm.
Anyone with sightings of the aircraft can contact RCCNZ on
0508 472 269 or the police.