The body of a helicopter pilot has been found two days after he lost contact with air traffic control in the Northern Territory of Australia.
On Thursday, December 7th, 2023, the 59-year-old pilot, Mike Harding from Gorrie Station, had not been heard from after informing a station on the Sturt Plateau, about 80km south of Mataranka, about his intention to land.
His body and the wreckage of his Robinson R22 Beta II helicopter (tail number VH-DLD) was found about 5pm on Saturday in the Sturt Plateau area, following a search operation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC). According to multiple sources, it is believed his helicopter crashed late on Thursday night.
The AMSA said it had “tasked the Challenger Rescue Aircrafts and multiple helicopters to conduct the search, from Thursday night until Saturday afternoon”.
“AMSA expresses condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” a spokesperson said. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will be conducting an investigation.
Northern Territory Police will prepare a report for the coroner.
Mr. Harding and his family have owned and managed the nearby Gorrie Station since 1988, and in 2022 he was named the Roper Gulf Council’s citizen of the year.
Mayor of the Roper Gulf Regional Council, Tony Jack, said Mr. Harding’s family was “well-known in the Katherine region, and in particular Mataranka and the pastoral industry”.
“They work hard in the industry, big families that are having a go, living for family and the industry,” Mr. Jack said.
“I’m lost for words to tell you the truth. We send our thoughts and prayers to the family at this present time.”
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