South Coast plane crash: one dead, one missing

4.53PM UPDATE: Police say they cannot confirm the identity of a man who died when a light plane plunged into the water off Barlings Beach on Sunday.

The two local men, both in their 60s, had set out at 11.30am on an Australian-made light plane to conduct an annual flying assessment of one of the men’s skills.

“The plane came down within the hour. We’re not sure yet, but it looks like something might have come loose off the plane and they lost control and went into the water," Sheldon Jones, chief pilot at the Moruya Aeroclub, said.

The man being assessed was a retiree and former retailer from Mossy Point and the other man was an active flying instructor from Moruya, who had many years of experience and flew a few times a week, according to Mr Jones.

“One of the men was extremely experienced and the other man was very experienced,” Mr Jones said.

One of the men is confirmed dead while the search for the other man has now been suspended due to poor light. Mr Jones said the men's deaths would be a “big loss to the aviation community”.

Police divers will attend the scene tomorrow to search the wreckage.

EARLIER: A man has died after a light-plane crash on the South Coast on Sunday.

A sea and air search is underway after the plane crashed into the ocean off Barlings Beach, south of Batemans Bay.

The plane went down around 12.30pm. Police have confirmed that one body has been recovered from the water.

Five boats and a helicopter are searching for a second man, who is still missing.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, based at nearby Moruya Airport, was on the scene within minutes and located an oil slick and debris floating on the ocean's surface about 1 ½ kilometres offshore from Mossy Point.

The helicopter crew found the body of a man floating on the surface, winched a rescue officer into the water and he and the man were winched aboard the helicopter.

The middle-aged man was flown to the Westpac Life Saver helicopter base where they were met by police and ambulance officers, however he was unable to be revived.

The two local men, both in their 60s, had set out at 11.30am on an Australian-made light plane to conduct an annual flying assessment of one of the men’s skills.

“The plane came down within the hour. We’re not sure yet, but it looks like something might have come loose off the plane and they lost control and went into the water," Sheldon Jones, chief pilot at the Moruya Aeroclub, said.

The man being assessed was a retiree and former retailer from Mossy Point and the other man was an active flying instructor from Moruya, who had many years of experience and flew a few times a week, according to Mr Jones.

“One of the men was extremely experienced and the other man was very experienced,” Mr Jones said.

One of the men has been confirmed to be deceased while the search continues for the other man. Mr Jones said the men's deaths would be a “big loss to the aviation community”.

Police and surf lifesavers are on the scene and divers were on their way. There is only a limited window to find the missing aircraft before it sinks in deep water.

Police, surf lifesavers and Marine Rescue NSW are continuing searching for the plane wreckage and any other survivors.

The Snowy Hydro SouthCare Rescue Helicopter was  has been sent to Barlings Beach on the South Coast to help with the search and rescue operation.

Police said a brief would be prepared for the Coroner.

smh.com.au

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