Plane reported missing

A small plane is missing after taking off from Auckland this morning.

The home-built biplane disappeared from radar shortly after an 11.30am take-off from Ardmore airfield, southeast of Auckland.

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

He was initially flying in a northeasterly direction towards Ponui Island, when the plane dropped off the radar.

Concerns are now high for the pilot's safety, as the aircraft had a potential range of around 700km with a full tank of fuel, which would have been exhausted about 2pm, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) search and rescue mission controller Neville Blakemore said.

The alarm was raised by the man's partner, he said.

Police were helping with the search.

"No distress beacon has been activated but this is being treated as a distress situation," Mr Blakemore said.

"We have checked with airfields in the region and there have been no reports of the plane landing.

"The plane would have been flying at low level and we would like anyone who has seen it to contact us so we can establish the likely route it has taken."

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


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