Eight-year-old saw aircraft ‘falling out’ of the sky
As the search continues for the United States-registered plane which disappeared last Saturday between Issano and Imbaimadai, an eight-year-old girl has since informed a search and rescue team conducting ground searches that she saw the exact plane in the Chi Chi Falls area ‘falling out’ of the sky.
Chi Chi Falls is an area in Imbaimadai, the place where the aircraft was last reported to be.
At a briefing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport last evening, Director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Zulfikar Mustapha said that the youngster indeed saw the aircraft, but it may not be that it was ‘falling out’ of the sky, since the aircraft had to do low lying surveys and the possibility highly exists that the aircraft was flying at different altitudes.
However, although the intensive searches continued yesterday, neither the aircraft nor its three passengers have been found.
One of the Dynamics aircraft which is assisting in the search is equipped with a heat sensing device, which is expected to significantly assist in locating the presumed missing aircraft.
It was also noted that Dynamics has sourced another aircraft from Suriname to assist in the search. This aircraft should go into operation today, while one of the Dynamics aircraft is also expected to conduct night searches.
Minister of Public Works and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn, said that the rescue personnel have searched the area ‘up and down’ for the past three days, and have come up with no results. Taking this into consideration, there is a need to intensify ground search.
He noted that there should be limited aerial search and more foot patrols, where the areas to be searched are specifically identified.
The persons conducting foot patrols are equipped with satellite phones, so as to convey anything that they find.
It was also revealed that the missing aircraft is equipped with a satellite tracking system, which is programmed to transmit signals every half hour.
It was explained that the team received a positive signal from the aircraft at 14:44 hours on Saturday, and was awaiting the second report, but never received it.
It was noted that due to the survey that the aircraft was doing, it could not programme the satellite tracking system to give a minute to minute reporting, since it would have disrupted the survey to be conducted.
Minister Benn noted that it is very distressing that there were no warning signals from the aircraft, and he pledged that the intensive search will continue today.
As it relates to the tracking device, which is attached to the aircraft in order to enable it to be traced if it crashes, it was noted that to date no signal has been transmitted. The pilot is also said to have experience of the area.
The search area is estimated to be some 900 square miles.
The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air was doing uranium survey work for Prometheus Resources Guyana Inc., a subsidiary of U308 Corp. of Toronto.
Those aboard the plane are pilot James Barker, First Officer Chris Paris and Canadian technician Patrick Murphy. Barker and Paris are American citizens.
Kaieteur News was told that the plane was flying over rough terrain when it disappeared.
Reports stated that the control tower at Timehri made contact with the occupants at 14:15 hrs on Saturday.
The plane, which departed from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, was scheduled to return at 18:15hrs.
When the plane failed to show, authorities dispatched the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) skyvan along with planes from private airline companies, as well as two British helicopters which are currently in Guyana as part of a GDF/ British Army training programme, to the area to determine the whereabouts of the plane.
Assistance has since been sought from the South American Satellite System, but no electronic signal has as yet been picked up. (Fareeza Haniff)