Police believe they have found the body of a Queensland mother after a vintage plane crashed during a joy flight to celebrate her birthday.
Trista Applebee, 31, was on a scenic flight with pilot Marcel van Hattem, 52, when the Soviet-era Yak 52 crashed into the sea off the Gold Coast on Wednesday, June 5.
#BREAKING: Gold Coast Water Police have found the body of 31-year-old Trista Applebee, who was on board a Yak 52 aircraft that failed to return from a flight on Wednesday afternoon.https://t.co/CiYN8gnwSW
— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) June 7, 2019
Gold Coast Water Police on Friday night, June 7, found a woman’s body, believed to be Applebee, at a beach at North Stradbroke Island.
“Police believe the woman to be the 31-year-old passenger from the Yak 52 aircraft that failed to return from a flight that departed a Coombabah airfield,” a statement said.
The female passenger of a Yak 52 that crashed north of the #GoldCoast has been named as Trista Applebee. The joy flight was an early birthday present for the young mother. Pilot Marcel van Hattem died in the crash. The search for wreckage continues @10NewsFirstQLD @10Daily pic.twitter.com/89LvHeVlmZ
— Matthew Howard (@MatthewamHoward) June 6, 2019
Mr van Hattem’s body was previously found in wreckage off South Stradbroke Island.
The experienced Dutch pilot had taken his friend—the mother of an 11-year-old girl—for a short flight in perfect flying conditions.
The plane was spotted flying over South Stradbroke Island about half-an-hour after they took off from a Coombabah airstrip on the morning of June 5.
Queensland mum Trista Applebee is presumed to have died during a joy flight to celebrate her birthday.
— Nine.com.au (@Ninecomau) June 7, 2019
Debris was found about 5.30pm that same day.
Authorities weren’t told until early on the afternoon of June 5 that the plane was missing.
But Neil Aitkenhead, the president of the Southport Flying Club, said it was a private flight, so there was no way of knowing where the pilot had gone.
“It wasn’t until investigations dug deeper and found it was only intended to be a 30-minute flight that the alarm was raised,” he told AAP on June 6.
The search continues off South Stradbroke Island for the woman missing after a plane crashed into the ocean two days ago. The pilot’s body was recovered yesterday but 31-year-old Trista Applebee still hasn’t been found. @KatrinaBlowers #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/cFoAKYTnvZ
— 7NEWS Gold Coast (@7NewsGoldCoast) June 7, 2019
The same type of plane plunged into the ocean in the same area 11 years ago, killing the pilot and passenger.
Pilot Barry Hempel and his passenger, Ian Lovell, died when that Soviet-made Yak-52 crashed into the ocean off South Stradbroke Island in August 2008.