Biplane pilot 'could still be alive'

Daroish Kraidy
Daroish Kraidy
The brother of pilot Daroish Kraidy, whose plane is missing off the Coromandel coast, says he may yet be found alive.

The 53-year-old's aerobatic biplane disappeared from radar detection shortly after take-off on Tuesday morning, and neither he nor his homemade plane has been seen since.

Mr Kraidy's brother Deon, 51, said last night that he was still holding out hope for Daroish.

Speaking from his home in Hoedspruit, South Africa, Mr Kraidy said there was a chance his brother had crash-landed somewhere and was still alive.

The family in South Africa were mostly holding together "all right" as they awaited further news, although their father "is not taking it very well".

Today, searchers from police are focusing one three different locations around Coromandel.

The Auckland Police launch Deodar III and the Police National Dive Squad will focus on Wainuiototo Bay, near where another search team spotted what looked like a small oil slick yesterday morning. The oil slick was not located yesterday but the Police Dive Squad will today conduct a grid search of the area for any sign of the missing aircraft.

An RNZAF Iroquois Helicopter will search the eastern side of Coromandel Peninsula, from Cape Colville down to Matarangi.

The Philips Rescue Trust Helicopter out of Hamilton will search a bush area to the south of Miranda near the bottom of the Firth of Thames

Information from the public is assisting rescuers to identify areas to cover according to Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ) Mission Controller Greg Johnston.

Daroish Kraidy has a 21-year-old son in New Zealand and a 24-year-old daughter in Australia. He divorced his wife "not too long ago", his brother said.

As well as Deon, his sister and father also live in his native South Africa.

Deon - who is also an aviator and runs a flight training school - said Daroish was a "very experienced" pilot who used to be a jet pilot in the South African air force.

He had been a pilot for about 35 years, Deon said, and had lived in New Zealand for the past "13 or 14" years. He had represented New Zealand at the Precision Flying World Championships.

No distress beacon had been activated from Mr Kraidy's plane.

RCCNZ said it was grateful for information provided by the public and asked anyone who had seen the plane on Tuesday or had any information that might assist the search to contact RCCNZ on 0508 472 269 or the police.

- Sam Boyer and APNZ

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