Search for missing bi-plane continues

By Rebecca Quilliam, Lane Nichols

The missing aircraft.
The missing aircraft.

Police searchers have been scouring a small area off the Coromandel coastline for an oil slick in their hunt for a small biplane that disappeared after take off yesterday morning.

The home-made aircraft, believed to have been owned and piloted by Auckland man Daroish Kraidy, took off from Ardmore airfield at 11.25am yesterday.

The 53-year-old was the sole occupant of the aerobatic plane, which was heading northeast when it disappeared from radar shortly after take-off.

Auckland Westpac Trust Rescue Helicopter spotted the oil slick about 300m to 400m off the Coromandel Peninsula coast this morning, the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Search and Rescue Mission Controller Neville Blakemore said.

It sent the Auckland police launch Deodar to investigate but it was unable to find the small slick, estimated to be about 30m long.

The boat was still in the area off Wainuiototo Bay searching with sonar, and the help of the police dive squad.

An RNZAF P3 Orion also searched around the northeast of Great Barrier Island, and the Trustpower Rescue Helicopter from Tauranga searched the coast between Waihi and Whitianga, Mr Blackmore said.

No distress beacon had been activated, but a search was launched after a friend of the pilot reported concern for his safety.

Reported sightings by members of the public indicated the plane might have continued flying in a northeasterly direction, Mr Blackmore said.

Further options for continuing the search would be evaluated overnight, he said.

Mr Kraidy, 53, is a listed shareholder and director of Hobby City. He lives in Mission Bay according to the electoral roll.

A Hobby City employee would not comment this morning but a source confirmed to APNZ that Mr Kraidy, whose Facebook page said he studied at Rhodes University in South Africa, was the missing pilot.

Mr Kraidy was reportedly a former South African air force pilot who had represented New Zealand at the Precision Flying World Championships.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 19 Dec 2014 22:08:14 Processing Time: 734ms