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Background[]

  • Olympian from New Zealand (also known as NZL) Flag of New Zealand in yachting.
  • Pilot of a microlight plan, and died in crash in April 2011. [1]
  • wikipedia:Geoff_Smale does not exist as of April 2011.

Insights[]

Hunt continues for pilot in April 2011[]

SARAH HARVEY http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/4869809/Hunt-continues-for-pilot

Rescuers searching for an 86-year-old microlight pilot, missing since 3pm, have narrowed their search to two areas after information was provided about two planes dropping off the radar yesterday along the man's expected route.

The initial search was sparked when Auckland businessman Geoff Smale, who represented New Zealand (also known as NZL) Flag of New Zealand in yachting at the Olympic Games, left North Shore about 11am yesterday but failed to turn up in Ashburton by about 3pm as planned.

Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) spokesman Ross Henderson said Mr Smale was an experienced and fit pilot and had made the more than 800km journey, expected to take up to four and half hours, a number of times before.

The aircraft, a white microlight with red detailing, has a nine hour flying range and is capable of 135 knots (250kph), so was able to complete the flight without refuelling stops. The weather along the route yesterday was good overall, with a few cloudy patches, he said.

Earlier today four helicopters combed the area between Ashburton and Auckland looking for any sign of the microlight.

Mr Henderson said rescuers had now narrowed their search.

RCC search and rescue officer Neville Blakemore said radar tracking information provided by the Airways Corporation showed an aircraft leaving from Auckland at about the same time as Mr Smale, then disappearing from radar about an hour later just South of Taharoa in the Waikato.

The information was roughly consistent with the estimated timing, speed and possible route of Mr Smale's aircraft.

A helicopter from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust based in New Plymouth will carry out a thorough search of the area, Mr Blakemore said.

As well, a fixed wing aircraft from the Phillips Rescue Trust in Hamilton will fly along a path between Auckland, Stratford and D'Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds, after additional radar data provided by Airways showed an aircraft disappearing from radar about 1pm near D'Urville. This was also roughly consistent with the estimated timing and possible route of Mr Smale's aircraft.

Mr Smale is carrying a personal locator beacon, radio, radar transponder and cellphone. The beacon has not been activated and attempts to contact Mr Smale through other communications channels have been unsuccessful.

==Footnotes==

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