Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Nina search: Father of missing woman to get pilot's licence

Danielle Wright from Lafayette Louisiana is among the 7 people missing on board the classic schooner Nina.
Danielle Wright from Lafayette Louisiana is among the 7 people missing on board the classic schooner Nina.

A father whose daughter is one of those lost at sea on missing yacht Nina is planning to get his own pilot's licence so he can fly his own search missions.

A privately-funded aerial search west of Norfolk Island has failed to find anything this week.

The seven-member crew was last heard from in rough Tasman Sea conditions on June 4.

Family and friends have remained hopeful their loved ones have survived, and have raised funds to keep private search efforts going after official searches were called off months ago.

This week - more than five months since the historic 85-year-old yacht left Opua in the Bay of Islands bound for Newcastle, Australia - two pilots, along with the parents of missing crew member, Danielle Wright, 18, again took to the skies to scour a new area west of Norfolk Island.

It now takes the private search to 35 days and 240 hours of air search over the Tasman Sea where the families believe "reverse circulating currents" have trapped the schooner.

Ms Wright's parents Robin and Ricky have been acting as "spotters", trying to locate the boat from a satellite image taken in September which showed the ghostly picture of a vessel.

On the Facebook page 'Holding Hope for the Nina', which has been set up to co-ordinate the search efforts and raise funds for the search plane, Mrs Wright says while conditions have been calm, they haven't seen any sign of the Nina.

The Wrights plan on flying to Sydney tomorrow, but they haven't given up the search yet.

"If we don't find Nina in this search, Ricky is seriously considering taking flying lessons from the search pilot, who says it's the perfect opportunity because then Ricky can get his time in the air with the trainer and kill two birds with one stone - he will be able to go out and fly the additional areas he wants to search closer to Australian shores," Mrs Wright says.

Each day of searching costs about US$20,000 (NZ$25,600).

The classic American schooner Nina under sail, owned by David Dyche III, is missing en route from the Bay of Islands, New Zealand to Newcastle.
The classic American schooner Nina under sail, owned by David Dyche III, is missing en route from the Bay of Islands, New Zealand to Newcastle.

Professional captain David Dyche III, 58, and his wife, Rosemary, 60, own the Nina. They were with their son David Dyche Jnr, 17, and fellow Americans Evi Nemeth, 73, Kyle Jackson, 27, as well as Ms Wright when the boat disappeared. Also on board was Briton Matthew Wootton, 35.

While Mr and Mrs Wright assist with the aerial search, the Wootton family are continuing to analyse satellite images and calculate drift patterns.

Friends and family of the Nina are using the Facebook page to keep in touch and post photos of the latest search.

- APNZ

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