UPDATE: POLICE have released the names for six people who are the occupants of an aircraft that has gone missing near Gympie.
Pilot Desmond Porter, 68, and his 61-year-old wife Kath Porter, both from Tingalpa, were on the plane.
Les D'evlin, 75, and his 61-year-old wife Janice D'evlin are both from Manly West
And John Dawson, 75, and his 63-year-old wife Carol Dawson are both from Tingalpa
Fifteen helicopter crews joined the search for the missing and the red vintage plane belonging to Mr Porter today.
The additional crews, some independently owned, were tasked to join seven helicopter crews, which have been searching an area over the Sunshine Coast hinterland since first light.
Police say they will have a team ready to move in once they aircraft has been found.
Sunshine Coast Police Superintendent Terry Borland said a search involving seven helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft was continuing.
The search is covering 700 square miles, focusing in on forestry near Imbil.
"Once we have a location identified, we can move in,'' Supt Borland said.
"The country is difficult country.''
Police have set up a command centre at the Sunshine Coast Police Communications Headquarters in Maroochydore.
Three AGL Action Rescue Helicopters, the Gold Coast Care Flight Helicopter, Brisbane's Emergency Management Queensland helicopter and the Dornier 328 from Melbourne is helping with the search.
AGL CEO David Donaldson said each of the seven helicopters were working in a grid pattern to ensure nothing was missed.
Once they had finished their section, they were returning to refuel before heading out again.
While the cloud base has lifted, the conditions were difficult.
"We have to get pretty close to the ground and that's what is difficult about this search area.
"It is hilly terrain and very woody.
"Even if you flew right across the top of it, you may not necessarily see anything.''
"You have to do it in a lot of detail.''
The trees are about 120 to 150 feet tall, making for a very dense canopy.
Pilots were looking for broken branches or evidence of a fire or the red of the aircraft.
An Australian Maritime Safety Authority search late last night turned no trace of the De Havilland DH84 Dragon and the passengers, including Mr Porter, his wife and crew.
Authorities believe the vintage De Havilland DH84 Dragon 2 biplane ran out of fuel about 2.30pm over the Jimna Range near Kilcoy yesterday.
No communication has been made with the pilot or passengers since.
Sunshine Coast Police, State Emergency Services and search and rescue teams are on standby to begin a land search for the plane.
Mr Porter, believed to be 68, was flying from a vintage air show in Monto to Caboolture when authorities were alerted by his aircraft's distress beacon over Noosa.
The 1934 vintage aircraft was authorised to fly only in 100% visibility because there was no navigational equipment installed.
Mr Porter made a plea for help when he could not find a gap in the clouds.
At that stage, his plane would have been out of fuel.
The Maroochydore and Bundaberg AGL Action Rescue Helicopters were tasked to find the plane.
The search continued until late last night, although no sign of the aircraft had been made.
AGL Action Rescue Helicopter Pilot Aaron Regan said thick cloud hindered the rescue.
"The weather conditions were not good out there. There is a lot of thick cloud and rain around," Mr Regan said.
"The fuel would have expired around the time we lost communications with the aircraft, so it is not looking good."
The aircraft was manufactured in 1934 in the United Kingdom and first registered in Australia in 1936.
A collector's item, the plane carried the call sign VH-UXG and was one of the oldest still registered in the country.
Mr Porter was an experienced pilot with more 20 years flying knowledge. He survived a fatal crash in the same model aircraft when he was a 10-year-old.
His father - who was flying that aircraft - and his older brother were killed when it went down in a creek in Brisbane's south.
Mr Regan said Mr Porter had been flying blind in thick cloud for almost two hours when his plane ran out of fuel.
"Normally he would be flying visually, so he would be flying below the cloud line, but unfortunately he found himself in cloud," he said.
"His first inkling as a pilot would have been to try to get out of it, and if you can't get out of it quickly, you need to climb and try not to hit anything."
Emergency workers will scale the rugged hinterland for the aircraft this morning.
A plane fitted with heat-sensing and night-vision technology joined the search last night.Helicopters will resume their search today at first light.
Mr Regan said there were hopes Mr Porter and his passengers were alive.
"We are hoping they broke free of the cloud and were able to make a controlled landing somewhere," he said.
"We understand he was an experienced pilot and if was able to find a clear spot, there is still a chance."
Anyone who has seen the aircraft should contact police.
Police said in a statement late Monday night that a search of the areas surrounding Imbil would continue at first light.
Grave fears held for missing pilot and crew
Grave fears are now held for Mr Porter and his five passengers.
A massive air and land search, involving two AGL Action Rescue Helicopters, was launched west of the Sunshine Coast for the red 1934 De Havilland DH84 Dragon.
Queensland Police Service and the Australian Rescue Co-ordination Centre are coordinating a search west of the Imbil area after the plane distress beacon was activated about 2.45pm.
The beacon is no longer active.
Reports suggest the plane lost visibility somewhere over the northern end of the Sunshine Coast and that it was running low on fuel.
The plane was returning to its base at Caboolture following a weekend airshow in Monto.
Two AGL Action Rescue Helicopters, one from the Coast and the other from Bundaberg, had been tasked to search for the plane until last light.
A spokeswoman for the Action Rescue Helicopter in a release sent at 4.40pm said it had been "some time" since there was any communication from the pilot and that the distress beacon was no longer active.
Anyone who has seen the aircraft or has information about its location are urged to contact local police.
ABOUT THE 1934 DRAGON
- Carrying capacity: Pilot plus five passengers
- Dimensions: wingspan 14.4m; length 10.5m; height 3.07m
- Weight: empty 1082kg; max 2041kg
- Performance: max speed 215kmh; max climb 172m a min; flight ceiling 4420m; flight range 877km
View Search for missing plane with six on board in a larger map
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