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Search Continues For Missing Plane

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) says the search is continuing for a missing a Cessna 152 aircraft and its sole occupant.

RCCNZ began a search operation for the aircraft, after detecting a beacon alert at approximately 7.30pm last night.

The aircraft was en route from the North Shore to New Plymouth, with only the pilot, a male, on board. The pilot called Airways at approximately 6.50pm, and reported that he was over Raglan and estimated that he would reach his destination in approximately 1 hour.

The distress alert from the plane's ELT or emergency locator transmitter was detected by RCCNZ at around 7.30pm. The beacon's location was on land and situated approximately 35km west of Te Kuiti.

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. The Iroquois has just returned to New Plymouth.

Another NZRAF Iroquois helicopter is on standby and will be able to support a land-based search. A land-based search party is also on standby to head into the remote and steep terrain at first light (sunrise is at approximately 7.30am) to search for the missing pilot.

Weather conditions in the area are poor, and are hampering search and rescue efforts.

No further details are available at this stage. A further update will be provided as any new information becomes available.

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