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Summary

Summary

On 26 April, 1972, a Bell 47 G3B1 helicopter registered VH-FJO disappeared while on a flight in the Gordonvale, Queensland, area and no trace has been found of the aircraft or its occupants.

The aircraft departed from Cairns at 0929 hours and at 0953 hours the pilot notified Cairns Tower that he was unable to climb above 6,000 feet. He inquired if there were any breaks in the cloud in the Cairns aerodrome area which would allow him to return and climb to 10,000 feet. The Tower Controller notified the pilot that the sky was completely overcast and the pilot requested a clearance to return on descent to Cairns. The tower controller issued a clearance for the aircraft to make a visual approach with an instruction to report approaching the city. At 0954 hours the pilot acknowledged receipt of the clearance by saying the aircraft's call sign. No further communications were received and the aircraft did not arrive at Cairns. At 1022 hours, after numerous efforts to establish contact with the aircraft had been unsuccessful, Cairns Tower declared the Uncertainty Phase of Search and Rescue Procedures. At 1030 hours, after further efforts to contact the aircraft, the Alert Phase was declared. The Distress Phase was declared by Townsville Operational Control Centre at 1101 hours and search action was initiated. The first search aircraft departed Cairns at 1214 hours and during the succeeding days civil and military aircraft flew 74 sorties involving a total of 150 hours 45 minutes. The air search was supplemented by extensive ground searching. The search continued until 1700 hours on 18 May, 1972.

 
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