Police recover bodies after Stradbroke Island plane crash

UPDATE: POLICE divers have retrieved the bodies of two people believed to be the pilot and passenger of the Tiger Moth which crashed near South Stradbroke Island yesterday afternoon.

Police said the bodies were located at about 8pm on Monday, but due to weather conditions and poor visibility, the bodies could not be retrieved at the time.

The bodies have been transferred to water police headquarters.


EAERLIER: 'Grave fears' for pair in Stradbroke Island plane crash

GRAVE fears are held for two people who are missing after their plane crashed yesterday in waters of South Stradbroke Island.

Emergency services have resumed their search this morning for missing pilot Alex James Rae, 26, and his passenger who is believed to be a 21-year-old French woman.

Police salvage teams and divers found the splintered wreckage soon after the alarm was raised, but there has been no sign of survivors.

Emergency services were notified of the crash on Monday (Dec 16) shortly after 12.30pm after witnesses saw the two-seat plane plunge into the ocean.

Investigations are under way to determine why the vintage Tiger Moth crashed.

Emergency service personnel in conjunction with other agencies spent Monday afternoon searching for survivors as wreckage from the plane washed up on beaches near the crash site.

Police divers located the main section of the plane in deep water about 300 metres off the island.

A South Stradbroke Island ranger told media the plane "shattered" after impacting with the water.

"My guess is he was probably doing a spin and he did not pull out of it," he said.

"It is high impact, poor buggers."

The plane was operated by iconic Gold Coast business Tiger Moth Joy Rides and had taken off from their airstrip on Greenmeadows Road at Pimpama.

The company, which offers scenic and aerobatic Tiger Moth flights, has been operating in the skies above the Gold Coast since 1978.

It is the second joyflight tragedy in south-east Queensland in the past five years.

Pilot Barry Hempel and his passenger Ian Lovell were killed in August 2008 when a Hempel Aviation Yak-52 warbird crashed into the sea off Stradbroke Island.

The inquest, completed recently, found Mr Hempel was not fit to fly and had likely suffered an epileptic fit moments before the crash.