Rescue helicopter pilot recounts difficult search for plane in Kaimanawa Ranges

A rescue helicopter pilot has described how poor weather conditions hampered the search for the wreckage of the plane that crashed in the Kaimanawa Ranges on Saturday, killing two people.

Taupo’s Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot Pete Masters says he tried searching for the missing plane when it was reported missing but had to abandon the search because of the weather.

Zakir Ali Parkar and Pete Callagher were the two pilots flying a Diamond DA42 twin engine plane from Palmerston North to Ardmore Airport via Taupō when it lost contact at 9pm on Saturday and was reported to the police as overdue.

The plane was located yesterday morning at about 11.30am and was registered to Ardmore Flying School in Auckland.

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The aircraft left Palmerston North last night and was found this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

In an interview with 1 NEWS, Mr Masters says he was given a "heads up" that the plane was overdue.

“We took off just after midnight but got as far down as Turangi, there was low cloud and it was raining and it was pointless trying to carry on,” he said.

Yesterday, he joined the search again in the Kaimanawa Ranges and says the aircraft was within "a one kilometre radius of the last known radar plot".

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Pete Masters says the weather conditions hampered the search for the plane’s wreckage. Source: 1 NEWS

He says the wreckage is located about 4500 feet "on the tops" in a remote area.

A spokesperson for the Transport Accident Investigation Commission told 1 NEWS a team of three investigators have been appointed to investigate the cause of the crash.

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Their twin-engine aircraft crashed near Taupo over the weekend while returning from Palmerston North. Source: 1 NEWS