A young mum and a Dutch pilot are feared dead after a vintage plane went missing during a flight over the Gold Coast to celebrate the woman’s birthday.
Police believe they’ve found wreckage of the aircraft on South Stradbroke Island.
Officers have spoken to the family of the 31-year-old woman, who would have marked her birthday on Thursday. She has an 11-year-old daughter.
But officers are having trouble finding the family of the pilot, 52, who is a Dutch national.
Police say the man and the woman knew each other, and the pilot had decided to take her for a joy ride on Wednesday morning, ahead of her birthday.
“It actually was a birthday flight. The pilot was known to her and providing that flight as part of her birthday celebrations,” Senior Sergeant Jay Notaro said.
The pair set off on their joy flight about 10am on Wednesday. Their plane was spotted flying over South Stradbroke Island about half an hour later.
But it failed to return to its take-off destination at Southport Airport and was officially reported missing just after 1pm.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has been co-ordinating the search.
“AMSA can confirm a coastline search party, arranged with the assistance of Queensland Police, located debris on the coast of South Stradbroke Island at approximately 5.30pm,” the authority said in a statement.
“Air traffic control contacted AMSA at about 1.15pm to report that the missing plane with two people on board had failed to return after departing Southport airfield on a 30-minute scenic flight at 10.00am.
“AMSA is currently sourcing aerial assets to conduct a search along the aircraft’s most likely route.”
Southport Flying Club president Neil Aitkenhead told the ABC the pilot of the Yak 52 was a regular at the airstrip and “very experienced”.
“It’s always bad news to hear and until we know more, there’s not a lot we can do,” Mr Aitkenhead said.
Conditions had been “perfect” for flying and the aircraft was “very reliable, solid and Russian-built”, he told ABC.