A SEARCH operation was expected to be called off this evening after an ultralight aircraft failed to reach its destination after taking off from Murwillumbah airfield at 10am this morning (Tuesday, May 16).
NSW Police media told The Weekly that rescue services were circling the area in a helicopter around Limpinwood for several hours today, but that the search was also widened to take in Tyalgum and Chillingham.
“The search crews, which includes a helicopter, are currently (7.45pm) discussing whether to call off the search in order to maintain safety and resume the search at first light,” the NSW Police media advisor said.
The media advisor said a call had been received by emergency services at around 11am, although the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.
“We don’t have anymore information at this stage,” he said.
Police said in media release that they have spent the day searching for the missing aircraft after a witness reported seeing a plane in difficulties.
Shortly after 10.45am today (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.