Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 9:11am |
National News

Search continues for missing plane and pilot

1 min read

A team of search and rescue volunteers and police are being flown to the Waikawau area this morning to continue the search for a missing light aircraft and its pilot.

Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ) initiated the search after detecting a beacon alert around 7.30pm.

The Cessna 152 with its sole occupant, an experienced pilot in his 20s from the New Plymouth area, was enroute from the North Shore and around 6.50pm the pilot indicated he was over the Raglan area and would reach his destination in about one hour.

RCCNZ tasked a Philips Search and Rescue Trust helicopter out of Hamilton to locate the beacon and ascertain the situation. The helicopter crew detected the beacon signal but were unable to descend through cloud to locate the aircraft and determine the situation. After refuelling, the helicopter made a second attempt, but was hampered by worsening weather conditions and returned to base.

RCCNZ tasked an RNZAF Iroquois helicopter, based at Ohakea. The crew on the Iroquois helicopter, which included police search and rescue, searched the area overnight, but were hampered by the weather conditions.

Although the beacon is providing rescuers with a general search area it is not providing a GPS.

Another Iroquois helicopter is now taking a team of three search and rescue volunteers and police into the area. Those three personnel who are alpine trained will search the area on foot while the aircraft continues and aerial search. The area is remote and rugged with very steep terrain.

Severe weather conditions continue to be an issue in the area.

A further update will be provided as any new information becomes available.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.