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Sole occupant found dead as plane located crashed in Coromandel Forest Park

The pilot and sole occupant of a light plane has been found dead after the aircraft crashed near the north end of Coromandel Forest Park. 

The plane was reported overdue about 4.25pm yesterday and was located crashed about 10am this morning by ground search teams.

Police say the sole occupant of the plane was found deceased.

The plane, a two-seater Vans RV-12, had failed to arrive at its destination, Ardmore Airport near Manurewa, after taking off from Whitianga Airport yesterday morning.

Police had been working with the Rescue Coordination Centre and Land Search and Rescue to locate the plane since last night.

Maritime New Zealand said the last recorded location of the aircraft on radars was in a rugged area of the Coromandel Forest called Kakatarahae and the plane was found in that area.

Thick fog in Manurewa meant it could not land at that location and it is understood the pilot may have made a return journey to the Coromandel Peninsula, a Maritime NZ spokesperson told Stuff.

Tony Turner, a close friend of the pilot, told 1 NEWS the community has been hit hard.

"He was a well-respected and loved member of the Whitianga Aero Club. And we will miss him dearly. Our sympathy goes out to the family, his wife and family," Mr Turner said.

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    The plane took off from Whitianga Airport on Friday bound for Ardmore Airport near South Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS