Family 'very distressed' following tragic end for pilot

TRAGEDY: Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter crews joined the search for a missing plane near Murwillumbah.
TRAGEDY: Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter crews joined the search for a missing plane near Murwillumbah. Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicop

THE family of a pilot who had been missing since Tuesday are reportedly "very distressed” following the discovery of his body on a private property at Limpinwood.

Searcher Luke Robinson had been scouring the bush on horseback when he came across the wreck at 9am on Thursday, on a property on Boormans Rd, Limpinwood, about 25km west of Murwillumbah.

"I went up close and it was wrapped around the tree with parts here and there,” Mr Robinson told 7 News Gold Coast.

He said he was "glad we found it (because) it was closure for the family”.

An image of what the downed aircraft looked like.
An image of what the downed aircraft looked like. Contributed

The discovery came after 72-year-old pilot Ian Sinnott took off from Bob Whittle Murwillumbah Airfield about 10am on Tuesday and never returned.

Terry Lowe told media he saw the plane "hit the tree at the top of the hill and something fell off” before it "disappeared over the top of the mountain”.

Other locals took to social media after seeing the incident.

"Did anyone see a plane fall out of the sky about one hour ago around Limpinwood?” Stephen Wall posted.

Mr Wall said he spent the rest of the day and all of Wednesday searching for the pilot.

"We were so close but, yet so far away,” he said.

"To the Westpac rescue chopper who landed and (asked) for my direction and again so close, to the police who have done an amazing effort in the difficult situation, to the air crash investigators, the level of professionalism is just amazing and thank you to all involved in this disaster.

"It was a fantastic effort for all involved. My condolences to the family.”

Tweed-Byron LAC Inspector Bobbie Cullen praised the work of those who helped search teams and said, after speaking with officers who had seen the wreck's location, it was "quite possible that we may never have found the aircraft without the assistance of these comm- unity members”. Tweed police confirmed the man's body had been retrieved.

A friend of Mr Sinnott, who wanted to be known as 'Johnnie', earlier this week described him as a "loveable character”.

"We love Ian,” she said. "We love his wife, and his family.”

Mr Sinnott was a Vietnam Veteran and experienced pilot. 'Johnnie' said he purchased the ultralight, nicknamed "the grasshopper” because of its bright green colour, in the past couple of weeks.

Aircraft at the Murwillumbah airstrip this morning.
Aircraft at the Murwillumbah airstrip this morning. Mitchell Crawley

Topics:  missing plane murwillumbah airstrip tweed byron local area command tweed heads and coolangatta westpac

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