Search teams in four-wheel drive cars and on motorcycles were slogging through rugged central Otago terrain late tonight looking for a missing pilot and plane.
An emergency beacon went off at 5.30pm, the signal coming from an area between the Old Man Range and the Garvie Range, between Alexandra and Kingston.
The missing aircraft, a Cessna 172 with just the pilot on board, was believed to be travelling between Bannockburn and Gore.
“Although unable to locate the aircraft, a helicopter crew spent a number of hours earlier today on scene and searching,” a rescue co-ordination centre spokesman said, “They were able to confirm and narrow the location to within 3-4km, before being forced to return to base due the weather conditions.”
Ground crews then went in to the area, and were expected to reach the beacon by about 10.30pm.
“The Civil Aviation Authority have been contacted, as have the man’s family,” the spokesman said.
“No further information about the status of the pilot or the aircraft is known at this stage, though rescuers are making every effort to reach him as quickly as possible, subject to the terrain and conditions.”
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