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24 October 2011

WICEN (NSW) search for missing plane

A regular WICEN (NSW) event with the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad and several others is a search and rescue exercise at Barrington Tops National Parks for the missing aircraft VH-MDX.

This is a multi-agency exercise looking for the only civilian aircraft after 30 years that remains missing on mainland Australia and with five people on board.

Its pilot, Michael Hutchins, took off from Coolangatta bound for Bankstown on August 9, 1981. While in the rugged Barrington Tops he radioed that his aircraft was unstable, losing altitude, may have been hit by lightning and ice was appearing on the wings.

After the disappearance was reported 300 searchers found nothing. This October the searchers were still unable to find a trace of the missing single engine Cessna aircraft.

On board were Superintendent Ken Price of the NSW Water Police, Rhett Bosler, Noel Wildash and Phillip Pembroke. They had just taken a yacht to Proserpine and were returning by air.

Each year volunteers search the area in the hope of finding something. All are equipped with rain-proof communications as they go about their tasks and are able to make contact with WICEN (NSW) at several command posts.

Areas already searched are marked so that other regions may be searched. They plan to complete the search and bring closure to the mystery of VH-MDX.

- Amateur Radio Victoria