New Zealand fishing boat nets submerged wreck of light aeroplane containing dead body

Body believed to be that of missing Auckland pilot Daroish Kraidy discovered among remains of 5.7-metre aerobatic biplane trawled up from the ocean off northern New Zealand

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 7:07pm

The crew of a New Zealand fishing boat on Thursday hauled up a surprising and gruesome catch: the wreck of a small plane containing a body.

Authorities suspect the plane to be a 5.7-metre aerobatic biplane that was home-assembled from a kit and flown by missing Auckland pilot Daroish Kraidy.

The crew of the San Kawhai were trawling for fish when they brought up the plane in the boat’s nets at about 10am local time, said Trish Sherson, a spokeswoman for fishing company Sanford.

Typically, trawl nets are dragged in a wide arc along the ocean floor to catch fish. Buoyancy can make it easier to lift heavy objects in the water than it would be on land.

The 61-foot fishing vessel is one of Sanford’s smaller boats and typically catches tarakihi, orange roughy and other species that live near the coast.

Kraidy’s Acro Sport plane is the only aircraft listed as missing by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Spokesman for the CAA Mike Richards said the Acro is relatively lightweight and is made from aluminium and wood, with fabric wings.

Kraidy, 53, took off on March 25 from Ardmore airfield near Auckland. Minutes later, his plane disappeared from radar screens, leading authorities to conclude he either switched off the plane’s transponder or was flying at a very low altitude.

Kraidy had previously flown in the World Precision Flying Championships. His ex-wife and daughter told Fairfax Media in May they believed his disappearance was deliberate after he had battled depression for years.

His ex-wife noted some similarities to the disappearance 17 days earlier of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, with 239 passengers on board, which remains missing.

Police said on Thursday that fishermen were transporting the wreckage to a bay near Great Barrier Island, about 90 kilometres northeast of Auckland.

Police said they were heading to the scene and would use a barge that could lift the plane aboard and transport it back to Auckland. They said they were contacting Kraidy’s family and friends about the discovery.