IT’S one of Australia’s most enduring aviation mysteries.
In August 1981, a Cessna 210 went missing in low cloud and freezing conditions over the rugged Barrington Tops National Park.
For the pilot and his crew, it was a tragic end to a fishing and sailing trip in Queensland.
The pilot had flown for 15 years.
Despite one of the largest searches in Australian aviation history, no trace of the plane, or its occupants, was found.
For the past 15 years, members of the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad, Police Rescue Squad and volunteers from other rescue organisations have ventured into the unforgiving terrain every October in an attempt to solve the mystery.
Unfortunately, each time their search has come up empty, meaning flight VH-MDX 210 remains the only aircraft to have crashed on mainland Australia that has yet to be found.
From today, the NSW Police Rescue Squad will host a search-and-rescue exercise in a bid to both locate the missing craft and “test and utilise the resources of many [emergency services] organisations”.
Police spokesman Sergeant Kevin Daley said the search was expected to run for three days between today and Sunday.
“It’s a regular search-and- rescue exercise, but this time it’s going to be more co-ordinated, involving the Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service, Volunteers Rescue Association, bushwalkers groups, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Ambulance Service of NSW and the Police Rescue Squad,” he said.
“There has been a more rigorous inquiry into where the plane was tracking before it disappeared.
“They are trying to nail down the area a little bit more and focus their attentions, but it will be quite a feat to solve it.”
Australian Army pilot Corporal Mark Nolan said he believed searchers now had a better chance of finding the craft.
“Six weeks ago I found some stuff in the national archives that previously hadn’t been released and it contained a lot of new information,” Corporal Nolan said.
“Going back and analysing it as close to accurately as possible and then using some of the newer technology that’s available today gives us a better-than-average chance of finding it.
“[This] is really going to be the year for it, because there is a concerted effort by a lot of professional organisations that not only have a professional, but a personal interest in finding it.”
Glen Horrocks, of the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad, said the organisation was involved in the initial search in 1981.
“We use Google Earth as a tool to visualise what the flight path looked over the ground ... and that has allowed us, particularly in the final couple of minutes of this flight, where he is getting into some very mountainous terrain, to really limit the area down to where he is likely to be,” Mr Horrocks said.
The search for the missing plane was a particular passion of Police Rescue Squad Sergeant Peter Anforth.
He was a good friend of Inspector Price and spent 25 years investigating his disappearance until his death in 2006.
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