ROTTERDAM (VG) Bart van Pelt (77) was surprised that there were no witnesses to report after the small plane hit the canal: – This is very special, said the experienced pilot.
Father Lars Haukeland, 58, and his son Filip Haukeland, 15, from Bergen, went missing after their small sports plane crashed in the western port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Sunday. The fuselage is not located.
“I’ve been flying commercially for over 50 years and never heard of anyone hitting the water without anyone knowing,” Bart van Pelt told VG.
The crash has become a big topic of conversation at the aviation club in Rotterdam – the largest in the Netherlands, with 27 instructors, seven aircraft and more than 300 members.
Among the instructors was van Pelt, whom VG met at the club location at the airport. The veteran drew a map of the airspace, pointed and explained.
Father and son fly the Dyn’Aéro MCR01 – a small lightweight sports aircraft with a cruising speed of 250 km/h.
The two-seater took off from Bergen airport on Sunday morning and refueled in northern Germany. He entered Dutch airspace at 16:45.
Local media reported that the Norwegian pilot had a brief conversation with the tower in Groningen. Then he got in touch with the military air traffic service.
Then calm down.
– There is reason to believe that they followed the coastline. It’s not the fastest way to destinations south of Paris, but a decent route when you’re at low altitude, around 1500 feet, says van Pelt.
The aircraft remained outside the air traffic service control zone in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
– Then he was also not assigned a transponder code, so the plane could be identified along the way and air traffic controllers found that the plane had suddenly disappeared from radar, van Pelt said.
So far no witnesses have reported that they saw the plane descending the Caland Canal west of Rotterdam, where the port of Europoort meets the North Sea. Both eyewitnesses on land and on ships that often pass through waterways.
No one knows when the plane crash occurred, in a remote and deserted port area characterized by fenced-in refineries and industrial plants, containers, wind turbines and cranes.
The accident was first noticed when a patrol boat from the port authority at around 6:50 p.m. found an oil spill and part of the plane’s wing floating in the water, with the aircraft registration code.
– It’s very rare. It was unexpected, tragic and very sad, said van Pelt.
After hopes of finding survivors were out on Sunday evening, police have led a search with a remote-controlled submarine and sonar in a large harbor area.
The fuselage was not found, after three days of searching. The canals are deep, the current is strong and the traffic is heavy at the wide canal outlets.
Police resumed searches at 06 on Thursday morning, but so far nothing new to report.
– How come no one saw or heard anything?
– Bad weather and deserted area, Dutch police spokeswoman Therese Ariaans told VG in a text message Thursday morning.
Ariaans said the lack of eyewitnesses made the search even more difficult for police.
“Of course we hope to find the wreck and its victims soon so we can give the family an answer,” he said.
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