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Searching for missing bi-plane suspended

Searching for missing bi-plane suspended

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has suspended the search for a missing home-built aerobatic bi-plane that took off from Ardmore airfield near Auckland on Tuesday 25 March, with a 53-year-old pilot on board.

The aircraft disappeared from radar minutes after taking off but aerial searches of the Coromandel Peninsula, surrounding sea areas, bush to the south of the Firth of Thames, islands in the Hauraki Gulf and off the Coromandel Coast have failed to find any sign of the plane. No distress beacon was activated.

Numerous helicopters and fixed wing aircraft were involved in the search effort including a RNZAF IROQUOIS helicopter and a RNZAF P3 ORION.

Search areas were determined after analysis of radar plots and reported sightings by members of the public that indicated the aircraft had travelled to the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula after taking off.

Drift modelling was also carried out after a small oil slick was sighted by helicopter in the sea off the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula the day after the aircraft disappeared. This determined where the slick may have started drifting from and the Police launch and national dive squad carried out a search of area off New Chums Beach at Wainuiototo Bay.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Geoff Lunt said the entire search operation had been extensively reviewed and based on all known information including reports from the public no new areas of interest had been identified.

“The decision to suspend a search is not taken lightly – it is obviously a very difficult time for the family and our sympathies are with them,” he said.

“Unfortunately at this stage we have covered all likely scenarios without any sign being found of the aircraft. We had an excellent response from the public in this operation, which has guided our searching , and we would like to acknowledge this assistance. If we receive new information that indicates we should look at other options, the search can be resumed at very short notice.”


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