Two people are still missing after a plane disappeared off the Gold Coast on Wednesday, sparking a huge rescue effort which is still ongoing in Queensland.
Queensland Police confirmed that a 52-year-old male pilot and a female passenger, 31, were onboard the vintage aircraft, which failed to return after a flight from Coombabah yesterday morning. The pilot and passenger have been described as associates and current residents of the Gold Coast.
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.”
Senior Sergeant Jay Notaro – OIC Gold Coast Water Police: Yak 52 plane failed to return from a 30 minutes scenic flight that left around 10am yesterday
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) June 6, 2019
Nataro confirmed that the woman’s family have been notified of the situation however added that police have 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 yesterday morning and was scheduled to return 30 minutes later, however there has been no contact or confirmed sightings of the place since.
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 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.”
Queensland Police spokesperson confirmed that the search, being conducted on air, land and sea, was continuing today, with the assistance of the Westpac helicopter, Polair, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles and volunteer marine rescue groups.
“Specialised underwater sonar equipment will also be utilised by police to search for the aircraft,” a spokesperson said.