Belfast Telegraph

Fuselage of microlight located off coast of Glenarm as search for two on board continues

By Donna Deeney

Wreckage from a microlight aircraft that went missing on Thursday night with two people on board has been found in the sea off the coast of north Antrim.

Debris including a tailplane now confirmed as belonging to the missing aircraft was found around half a mile from Glenarm Marina where the extensive search had been focused from yesterday afternoon.

The search for the two passengers continued into the night.

It is understood the pair and another couple in a second aircraft had been on a visit to Northern Ireland and had stayed in Londonderry where they spent time taking in the sights.

A spokesman from UK Coastguard said the families of those involved were being supported by police. He said: "UK Coastguard can confirm that debris has been found in the search for the missing microlight aircraft. A yacht, which had responded to the Mayday and joined the search efforts, located the debris north of Glenarm.

"It has been confirmed as belonging to the microlight aircraft that went missing. Police are providing support to the families." The two microlight planes took off from City of Derry airport around 11am on Thursday morning at a time when weather conditions were good, but while the first aircraft managed to rise above fog near Ballycastle, the second plane was last seen flying through it. The extensive rescue operation began on Thursday evening after the plane failed to reach its destination in Scotland.

Shortly after the alarm was raised at 8.30pm on Thursday, the Coastguard launched its emergency response. The Coastguard along with five RNLI lifeboats from Larne and Red Bay in Northern Ireland and Portpatrick in Scotland began a search of the vast expanse of water off the coastline until 4am when foggy weather hampered their efforts.

The search got under way again shortly after 10am yesterday morning when RNLI crews were back on the water between Cushendall and Carnlough before moving to Glenarm where the debris was located.

The massive search operation also involved members of the Community Rescue Service. Mountain Rescue volunteers gave assistance on land and combed the area between Ballypatrick Forest and Greenan near Ballycastle.

Around 40 volunteers from the Community Rescue Service were back out searching for any evidence of the missing microlight as soon as visibility allowed yesterday morning.

Sean McCarry, Regional Commander of the Community Rescue Service said: "The vast expanse of both sea and land that was being searched coupled with the fact that it was a very small aircraft meant that it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we will continue to search until we are told otherwise."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph