By RACHEL SCOLLAY and AAP
A NORTH coast man and his son are missing, feared dead, following an ultralight aircraft crash at Byron Bay.
Witnesses saw the yellow fixed-wing craft crash into the sea about 500 metres from shore at Tyagarah Beach about 12.30pm Saturday.
Police say they hold grave fears for the 54-year-old pilot and his 25-year-old son, who have not been seen since the aircraft plunged into the ocean.
Divers yesterday unsuccessfully combed the area for the men, and were also unable to retrieve any further wreckage.
A police spokeswoman said the search would resume this morning but hopes for the Byron Bay men were fading.
"There were witnesses who saw them go in and no-one saw them coming out," the spokeswoman said.
"We're now looking at a retrieval as opposed to a search operation."
Divers and a police boat will regroup this morning with sonar equipment in a bid to locate both the men and the plane's fuselage, which may have sunk to the ocean floor, she said.
Westpac Rescue Chopper and members of the Brunswick and Byron Bay surf clubs were able to salvage some debris following the crash including a single shoe, a pair of ear muffs and what is believed to be a wing strut.
President of Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-AUS), John Gardon said the men were very well known in the area and the close-knit flying community was reeling with shock.
"When a tragedy occurs it has an impact on all families and friends," he said.
RA-AUS is investigating the crash.