A search continues for an Australian pilot missing, feared dead, after his helicopter crashed into the sea off a remote Papua New Guinea island.
Lloyd Lester, 57, from Brisbane, has been missing since his helicopter crashed in the Bismarck Sea, 36km south of Manus Island, in PNG’s north, on Sunday.
Mr Lester’s daughter, who wanted to remain unnamed, told News Limited: “He is an amazing father”.
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“It’s just a waiting game.
“We’re hoping they don’t just give up on the search anytime soon,” she said.
Pacific Helicopters owner Mal Smith, who is also Eastern Highlands Province governor, said people were searching for the pilot on Monday and some wreckage had been found.
“He still might be alive. It’s a hope by me,” he said.
“I know he is a very fit person and there was a small nearby island he could have swum to, but at this stage it’s just a hope,” he said.
The experienced pilot was flying helicopters from the Eastern Highlands centre of Goroka to Manus for mining contractors, Mr Smith said.
He had been working in PNG’s mining industry for about four years.
Mr Smith said that weather conditions were good and the sea was smooth when the helicopter went down.
“There was an emergency then a crash. Why? We just don’t know right now.”
There was no new information on Monday afternoon, a Pacific Helicopter staff member said.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman said the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby was liaising with local authorities and Pacific Helicopters.
“DFAT in Canberra is providing consular assistance to the man’s family,” she said in a statement.
Resource-rich PNG relies heavily on helicopters and small aircraft for transport and logistics to numerous mining sites in remote locations.
Last year three Australians and a New Zealander died when their charter plane skidded off the runway in poor conditions at Misima Island, Milne Bay province.
In 2009 an Airlines PNG Twin Otter slammed into the Owen Stanley Ranges on its way to Kokoda killing 13 people, including nine Australians trekkers.
PNG’s rough terrain and harsh landscape with unpredictable weather make for difficult flying conditions but underfunding and a lack of political will have also marred PNG’s aviation safety record.