The body of a pilot believed to be in control of a plane reported missing off the Queensland coast on Wednesday has been discovered, while the search for the female passenger continues.
Gold Coast Water Police located the deceased man in wreckage off South Stradbroke Island on Thursday afternoon as part of a huge rescue effort off South-East Queensland.
It is thought the remains belong to 52-year-old pilot, identified by Nine News as Marcel Van Hattem, who was piloting the vintage plane which failed to return after a flight from Coombabah on Wednesday morning.
“Police believe the man to be the 52-year-old pilot from the Yak 52 aircraft that failed to return from a flight that departed a Coombabah airfield around 10am yesterday,” Queensland Police confirmed in a statement yesterday.
“The debris was found on the coastline of South Stradbroke Island around 5.30pm, June 5.”
Meanwhile, police continue to search for a 31-year-old female passenger who was on the flight as a special present for her birthday.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning, Senior Sergeant Jay Nataro confirmed that the scenic flight was arranged as part of the woman’s birthday celebrations, revealing that the Gold Coast woman is also mother to an 11-year-old daughter.
“It’s actually her birthday today – the passenger of the plane,” he told reporters. “It actually was a birthday flight.
“The pilot was known to her and providing that flight as part of her birthday celebrations.”
Nataro confirmed that the woman’s family had been notified of the situation however added that police had experienced some difficulty contacting the pilot’s family due to the fact he is a Dutch national.
The scenic flight took off at around 10am on Wednesday morning and was scheduled to return 30 minutes later.
Police were notified of the disappearance at around 2.30pm on Wednesday afternoon, with debris then washing up on the coastline of South Stradbroke Island just before 5pm.
“Just before 5pm yesterday [Wednesday] a small amount of debris was found on the coastline of South Stradbroke Island,” he added. “This has been identified as being consistent with the missing plane. Since that time we have located further debris. Anyone who locates any debris is asked not to touch up.”