NSRI along the East Coast, are continuing to assist the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), by continuing to keep a vigil for a Foxbat Tricycle-Gear Ultra Light Aircraft, call sign ZUPCB, and the 61 year old Newcastle pilot, that went missing on Wednesday, 06th June, during a flight from Newcastle.
On Thursday, 07th June, NSRI Richards Bay launched sea rescue craft to conduct an off-shore search Northwards of Richards Bay towards St Lucia. The search extended up to 5 nautical miles off-shore.
NSRI rescue stations between St Lucia and East London have been requested by ARCC to keep a vigil and as a precautionary measure to extend the vigil along the coastline to also include as far as both our NSRI stations in Port Alfred and Port Elizabeth.
NSRI controllers are monitoring for any reports from members of the public, recreational sea going craft, fishermen, ships at sea and coastal boat clubs, hikers, anglers, lifeguards, NSRI coast watchers, coastal resorts and bathers that may come across debris washing ashore that might be related to this case.
ARCC confirmed that the aircraft was last known to be flying over the coastline in the Mabibi vicinity.
Santjie White, the Chief of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre, said that the extensive search Northwards of Mabibi takes into account Northwards sea drift currents in the possibility that the aircraft ditched close inshore and the extensive search Southwards of Mabibi, to as far afield as East London, takes into account if the aircraft ditched in the sea further off-shore with the Southwards sea drift currents further out to sea. A land search has also yielded no sign of the missing aircraft.
While it remains unknown if the aircraft went missing on land or at sea the extensive ARCC search, extended between Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal (Sodwana Bay) and Southwards, both on land and at sea, and the vast coastline search, takes into account all possibilities.
ARCC have also requested aircraft flying along the coastline to keep a vigil.
Thoughts are with the family of the missing pilot in this difficult time.