Search for missing pilot in Coromandel

Searchers will scour areas of the Coromandel and a patch of rugged terrain near Miranda today to try and track down a solo pilot whose home-built plane has been missing since Tuesday.

The 53-year-old  flew out of Ardmore airfield, south-east of Auckland, at 11.25am when he disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff.

No distress beacon was activated, but the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand launched a search after a friend of the pilot reported concern for his safety.

Reported sightings of the plane indicate the pilot may have continued flying in a north-easterly direction.

The Westpac Waikato Rescue Helicopter will hunt through a rugged piece of bush terrain west of Waitakaruru near the bottom of the Firth of Thames.

It should take the team, which will include police search and rescue staff collected from Thames, a few hours to complete.

The Auckland Police launch Deodar III and the Police National Dive Squad will focus on Wainuiototo Bay, near where another search team spotted what looked like a small oil slick yesterday morning. 

Searching yesterday failed to locate the oil slick but the dive squad will today complete a grid search of the area for any sign of the missing aircraft.

An RNZAF Iroquois Helicopter will search the eastern side of Coromandel Peninsula, from Cape Colville down to Matarangi.

Anyone who saw the plane on Tuesday or had any information that might assist the search is urged to call RCCNZ on 0508-472-269 or the police.