ON AIR: The Weekend Collective

3PM - 6PM

Missing small plane found; police now investigating

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 24 March 2019, 10:33AM
The last known location of the plane was in the Kaimanawa Ranges. (Photo / File)
The last known location of the plane was in the Kaimanawa Ranges. (Photo / File)

A search team had found the small plane that was carrying two experienced flying instructors and was reported missing last night.

The plane was reported missing in the Kaimanawa Ranges in the central North Island.

A Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed the search teams had found the plane this morning. The response was now being led by police.

A major search operation had been under way for the missing plane, a DA 42 twin-engine propeller aircraft registered to Ardmore Flying School in Auckland.

A Rescue Coordination Centre spokeswoman told the Herald it was alerted about 10.30pm on Saturday and police were notified about 11.50pm.

The plane had left from Palmerston North and was flying to Ardmore Airport near Auckland, via Taupō.

The plane did not make it to Taupō Airport.

Ardmore Flying School CEO Ian Calvert said the plane was carrying two experienced male instructors. He had been in touch with the families of the men.

"We are all just waiting, holding our breath for the rescuers to let us know what has happened, hoping and praying for a safe outcome."

Calvert said they lost radio contact with the plane at about 9pm as it was approaching Taupō.

"At this point there is no indication as to what may have occurred. They are both very experienced flight instructors."

A rescue helicopter was mobilised last night and tried to reach the last-known location of the plane, 24 kilometres east of Tūrangi, but had to turn back because of low cloud and drizzle.

There was more low cloud and drizzle this morning and the rescue team was waiting for conditions to improve before they could get in the air.

The alarm was first raised by Airways - which looks after air traffic control - at 10.30pm on Saturday.


ON AIR: The Weekend Collective

3PM - 6PM