Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.
Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

Pilot missing near Murwillumbah found dead at scene

WEDNESDAY 11am: A SEARCH for a pilot reported missing on the Far North Coast has concluded with the wreckage of an ultra light found a short time ago.

A searcher on horseback located the wreckage at 9am (Thursday 18 May 2017), on a private property on Boormans Road, Limpinwood, about 25km west of Murwillumbah.

The pilot - believed to be a 72-year-old man - died at the scene.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in Canberra has been co-ordinating the search after a member of the public reported an aircraft in difficulties near Limpinwood, about 10.45am Tuesday (16 May 2017).

Police from Tweed/Byron Local Area Command confirmed a 72-year-old man was piloting ultra light aircraft which had taken off from Murwillumbah Airport about 45 minutes earlier.

The search and rescue operations have been conducted in the surrounding area since then, involving up to eight helicopters, including the NSW Police airwing PolAir, police on trail bikes, as well as SES volunteers on foot and searchers on horseback.

An operation is now underway to retrieve the man's body.

His family has been informed.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been informed by AMSA and investigations will be conducted to determine the cause of the crash, with police working with the relevant air safety authorities.

AMSA and NSW Police wish to thank all those involved in this difficult search operation and extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the pilot.


UPDATE 4.30pm: A LISMORE-based rescue aircraft continues to assist with the search of a missing plane west of Murwillumbah. 

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has returned to the search area at Wollumbin National Park for the third time today to support efforts to find the aircraft. 

The chopper will remain in the area until last light this afternoon.

UPDATE 1pm: THE Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter service has been re-tasked to continue the aerial search of the missing aircraft in the Murwillumbah area. Australian Search and Rescue are coordinating a total of three Rescue Helicopters in the region.

Throughout the night the Westpac Rescue Helicopter continued to search rugged bushland west of Murwillumbah with night vision goggles, unfortunately the aircraft was not located.


WEDNESDAY 9.44am: POLICE have spent the day searching for a missing aircraft in the far north of the state after a witness reported seeing a plane in difficulty.

Shortly after 10.45am on Tuesday May 16, a member of public saw an aircraft in difficulties near Limpinwood.

Police from the Tweed Byron Local Area Command and other emergency services responded and determined that an ultralight aircraft had taken off from Murwillumbah Airport at 10am.

The aircraft, with a 72-year-old male pilot and only occupant, did not reach its destination.

Police have concentrated their search on an area of bushland between Tyalgum and Chilligham.

Officers have searched in vehicles, on foot and with the assistance of aircraft.

The land search was called off about 6pm when darkness fell and it is expected to resume at first light tomorrow. Two helicopters are continuing the search over night.

A police presence will remain in the area this evening with a renewed ground search expected to be undertaken from the earliest opportunity tomorrow.

Australian Search & Rescue (AusSAR) in Canberra has been notified and are co-ordinating the search.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.


TUESDAY 5.37pm: A SEARCH is underway for a light aircraft missing on the North Coast.

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was tasked from Lismore about 3pm to join emergency services to locate the aircraft when it failed to arrive in the Tyalgum area, south west of Coolangatta about 10am.

Search efforts are commencing near Boormans Rd, south of Limpinwood.

The chopper joined the search until last light before returning to base in Lismore about 5.15pm.

A Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter spokesman said it's possible the service may be re-tasked to the scene later tonight or at dawn tomorrow morning.

He said the search is entirely visual as the plane did not contain an emergency beacon.

The search is expected to continue into the evening.

A Tweed police spokesman told the Tweed Daily News the pilot was believed to be the only person on board.

More to come.