Police find body after desperate search for young mum on birthday flight

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The plane was reported missing to police at 2.30pm on Wednesday. Source: Getty

The body of a woman believed to be a passenger in a plane reported missing off the Queensland coast on Wednesday has been discovered.

Gold Coast Water Police located the deceased woman on the southern part of Main beach on North Stradbroke Island on Friday afternoon as part of a huge rescue effort.

It is thought the remains belong to the 31-year-old passenger, identified by Nine News as Trista Applebee.

“Police believe the woman to be the 31-year-old passenger from the Yak 52 aircraft that failed to return from a flight that departed a Coombabah airfield around 10am Wednesday,” Queensland Police confirmed in a statement yesterday.

Meanwhile, the 52-year old pilot, identified as Marcel Van Hattem, was located in wreckage off South Stradbroke Island on Thursday afternoon.

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 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 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.”

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