UPDATE | Body of Gold Coast mother found after plane crash

UPDATE @ June 8 2019 5am | A body, believed to be that of a Gold Coast mother whose plane crashed during a joy flight on Wednesday, has been discovered.

Gold Coast Water Police confirmed, they located a “deceased woman” on the southern part of Main beach on North Stradbroke Island late Friday.

31-year-old Trista Applebee was a passenger in the Yak 52 aircraft, that failed to return from a flight that departed from the Southport Air Field in Coombabah around 10am on Wednesday.


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She and pilot Marcel van Hattem were only scheduled to spend around 30-minutes in the air, on a scenic flight to celebrate her birthday.

When the plane failed to return to the airfield, an alarm was raised and a major search was launched that afternoon.

The body of the 52-year old pilot was located on Thursday, in wreckage off South Stradbroke Island.

Mr van Hattem has been described as a well-respected member of the Southport Flying Club.

While tributes are flowing for Ms Applebee, who has an 11-year-old daughter.

EARLIER @ June 7 2019 6:45am | A search will resume this morning for a young mother, missing following a plane crash off the Gold Coast.

Trista Applebee, 31, was enjoying a scenic flight on the Yak-52 vintage aircraft for her birthday on Wednesday when tragedy struck.

The plane took off from the Southport Air Field in Coombabah around 10am on Wednesday for what was supposed to be a 30-minute flight.

But the aircraft didn’t return and never made contact with anyone.

A massive search was launched on Wednesday afternoon with some debris being located a few hours later.

More debris was discovered on Thursday before crews located the body of the pilot, 51-year-old Marcel van Hattem.

His body was found among wreckage recovered from waters off South Stradbroke Island.

Mr van Hattem, a Dutch citizen who had called the Gold Coast home for many years, has been remembered as an avid flyer and lovely man.

Neighbours expressed their shock at the news and say he will be sorely missed.

“Marcel was a great neighbour, a very adventurous sort of guy, a thinker, he had a real engineering mind. He loved life,” Greg Schier told Nine News.

An air, sea and land search will continue today for Ms Applebee and the remainder of the wreckage.

Specialised underwater sonar equipment was also brought in on Thursday to assist in the search.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has confirmed it is now investigating the accident.

“As part of the investigation the ATSB will liaise with the Queensland Police Service and interview involved parties and witnesses. The ATSB will also examine the recovered aircraft wreckage and collect other relevant evidence and information,” the ATSB said in a statement.

“Any witnesses are asked to call the ATSB on 1800 020 616 or complete the ATSB’s online form www.atsb.gov.au/witness.”

“A report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate action can be taken.”

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