Christchurch man aids hunts for missing plane
A Christchurch man nicknamed 'Marmite' is among the specialist crew searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
Air Warfare Specialist Flight Sergeant Simon Martelli - nicknamed Marmite - is one of the dedicated crew onboard the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion scouring about 319,000sqkm of ocean for signs of the missing flight MH370.
The Boeing 777 jet disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on-board, including former Christchurch man Paul Weeks and Auckland man Ximin Wang.
Martelli, a former St Bede's College pupil, said he had been part of a number of search and rescue missions over the his 12-year career, but the search for flight MH370 was the largest "by far".
"The families and friends of those on-board MH370 are constantly in our thoughts, it gives us motivation to do our very best every time we go out to search," he said.
Martelli is based at Auckland's Whenuapai Air Base, operating the P-3K2's radar and electro-optics camera.
His job as sensor operator is highly specialised and includes using radar, video cameras and acoustic equipment to find objects of interest.
There are currently nine military aircraft searching for the missing jet, including two Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76, a US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft and the Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion.
Six vessels are also heading to the latest search area, including five Chinese ships and a Royal Australian Navy ship.