Byron Bay police Constable Nikki Abbott sorts through belongings that have surfaced so far.
Byron Bay police Constable Nikki Abbott sorts through belongings that have surfaced so far.

Aircraft crashes off coast

By RACHEL SCOLLAY

A 54-YEAR-OLD Byron Bay pilot and his 25year-old son are missing, presumed dead, after the ultralight aircraft they were in crashed into the water just off Tyagarah Beach on Saturday.

Three police divers from Sydney unsuccessfully tried to locate the wreckage yesterday morning, using sonar equipment from a boat.

More divers and water police from Coffs Harbour will join them this morning and are expected to be out searching the ocean at first light.

Byron Bay duty officer Inspector Owen King said witnesses reported a yellow plane crashing into the water about 700m off the beach around 12.30pm on Saturday.

Enquiries then revealed a fixed-wing ultralight with golden wings was overdue. He said the Brunswick Surf Club located an oil slick, then some pieces of debris started to wash up to the surface.

A sandshoe, a pair of ear muffs, a headrest and a case containing a Swiss army knife were found, as well as what is believed to be a wing strut.

The suspected crash site has been marked with a buoy.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter made an aerial search of the immediate area for an hour, returning to search an enlarged area, up to Brunswick Heads, down to Byron Bay and five miles out to sea until last light on Saturday.

President of Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-AUS), John Gardon, said the men were very well-known and the close-knit flying community was reeling with shock.



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