Family relieved by bi-plane wreckage find

By Steve Deane, Susan Strongman

Wife and brother of missing pilot say they will now be able to get closure after four months of grieving.

The wreckage of a missing biplane of Daroish Kraidy (inset) is picked up in fishing nets by the the fishing vessel San Kawhia off the southern point of Great Barrier Island. Photo / Chris Gorman
The wreckage of a missing biplane of Daroish Kraidy (inset) is picked up in fishing nets by the the fishing vessel San Kawhia off the southern point of Great Barrier Island. Photo / Chris Gorman

A police disaster victim identification expert has started examining a light plane that was hauled up in a fishing net off the coast of Great Barrier Island yesterday morning.

Next of kin of missing Auckland pilot Daroish Kraidy were told by police last night that initial reports that a body was in the wreckage had been revised.

It was more accurate to say some human remains appeared to be in the wreckage, which would take some time to examine and formally identify, Inspector Mark Benefield said today.

The small plane was picked up in a net by Sanford fishing trawler San Kawhia yesterday morning, and police said some features were consistent with 53-year-old Mr Kraidy's plane which went missing in the area in March.

The wife of a missing pilot says it's a miracle that wreckage of her husband's bi-plane which disappeared more than four months ago has apparently been recovered from the sea off Great Barrier Island.

His wife Judy said the initials DJK on the tail of the recovered plane, which was "scratch-built to perfection" by her husband, stood for "Daroish and Judy Kraidy".

An extensive aerial and sea search, which was called off on April 1, failed to find the aircraft and on May 1 a wake was held for Mr Kraidy in Auckland.

Mrs Kraidy is separated from her husband and lives in Port Douglas, Australia.

She said she spoke to police yesterday and news of the plane wreckage was a huge relief.

"I always said if he was to be found it would be purely by accident, and that's exactly what happened - it's like a miracle. It's a very big ocean."

After four months of mourning the loss of her husband, with whom she had a son Clint and daughter Krystle, both in their 20s, it was good to finally have "closure".

She had no plans to return to New Zealand. She and her family would scatter Mr Kraidy's ashes at Kruger National Park, in their country of birth, South Africa.

Last night police had not yet confirmed whether the recovered aircraft was Mr Kraidy's, but the Civil Aviation Authority's Mike Richards said the two-person 5.7m-long plane was the only missing aircraft he knew of in New Zealand.

A detailed inspection of the wreckage and its contents would be carried out today by a police disaster victim identification expert and Civil Aviation Authority personnel, police said.

The find was reported to police about 11.10am yesterday and the police launch Deodar was due back at Auckland's Marine Rescue Centre last night.

Deodar's crew reported the blue and white plane, which was still tangled in orange fishing net when transferred by crane on to a barge, was severely damaged.

Younger brother Deon said Mr Kraidy was an exceptional pilot, who was highly intelligent and well-loved by everybody.

Deon, who works as a flight instructor in Hoedspruit, South Africa, near Kruger National Park, said his older brother had taught him to fly.

News of the plane's recovery made him feel relieved.

"At least now we've got closure to the whole thing."

He said his brother had flown radio model aeroplanes since he was about 7, got his pilot's licence when he was 18 or 19, and spent about two years in the air force.

After leaving the air force, Mr Kraidy studied computer science and mechatronics at university, his brother said.

He said Mr Kraidy moved to New Zealand to get away from politics in South Africa, and had lived here for 13 or 14 years.

On March 25, Mr Kraidy, who had represented New Zealand and come second at the Precision Flying World Championships, flew out of Ardmore Airport at 11.30am and the plane disappeared from radar detection shortly after.

No distress beacon was activated when the plane went missing.

Timeline


This missing bi-plane of Daroish Kraidy was found by the trawler San Kawhia.
Photo / Chris Gorman

March 25: Daroish Kraidy flies out of Ardmore Airport at 11.30am in his home-built biplane. The aircraft disappears from radar detection shortly after.

March 26: A search and rescue spokesman says the plane had a potential range of about 300km with a full tank of fuel, which would have run out at 1.30pm.
Teams search the sea east of the Coromandel Peninsula after the Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter spots an oil slick off Wainuiototo Bay.
Planes search around the northeast of Great Barrier Island, while the Trustpower rescue helicopter from Tauranga searches the coast between Waihi and Whitianga.

April 1: Search called off.

May 1: Family hold wake in Auckland.

Yesterday: Sanford fishing trawler San Kawhai pulls up plane wreckage and a body, likely to be that of Daroish Kraidy.

Today: A detailed inspection
of the wreckage and the remains will be carried out by a police disaster victim identification expert and Civil Aviation Authority personnel.

- NZ Herald

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