Search for missing plane crash victim Ralph Buchanan continues south of Batemans Bay

The search for Ralph Buchanan, whose light plane crashed into Batemans Bay on Sunday afternoon, claiming the life of friend Graham White, has continued off the coast of Barlings Beach on the far south coast. 

Westpac Life Saver Helicopter chief executive Stephen Leahy said rescue crew were temporarily tasked to Quondola Beach after a person was pulled from the water unconscious on Tuesday morning but were called off the job once the man was pronounced dead.

Mr Leahy said the helicopter crew would work with NSW water police throughout the day to find Mr Buchanan, who has been missing for nearly 48 hours.

"At this stage, NSW water police have provided us with an extensive search area off the coast of the Barlings Beach to identify anything that may have come from the place accident, whether that is further items of debris of the missing man," he said.

A NSW police spokesman said the search for Mr Buchanan recommenced at 7am on Tuesday and would continue throughout the day.


The search for the missing man will concentrate on an area between Mossy Point and Malua Bay, south of Batemans Bay.

Mr Leahy said the search was close to the hearts of many staff with the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter as they knew Mr Buchanan and Mr White from their time at Moruya Airport.

"We know the man who is missing but we've got a new crew on the helicopter today and they're eager to do everything," he said.

In a statement, the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter service said their "thoughts and prayers are with the men's families and our friends and colleagues at the Moruya Airport".

"Our crews were involved very quickly after the accident on Sunday and they recovered the body of Graham." 

Mr Buchanan and Mr White, who were both stalwarts of the Moruya Aero Club, left Moruya Airport at 11.10am on Sunday in Mr Buchanan's Morgan Sierra 200.

Witnesses to the crash reported seeing a plane plunge into the ocean shortly after noon about one kilometre off Barlings Beach.

Friend and fellow aviation enthusiast Alan Morton bought a plane with Mr Buchanan and was taught how to fly by the experienced Mr White.

Mr Morton said Mr Buchanan, who was the former owner of an electrical goods store in Batemans Bay, was an experienced pilot.

"The thing about Ralph is that he is the most pedantic and precise and particular person I've ever met," he said. "Everything was 'T's crossed and 'I's dotted.

"He was the most wonderful person to actually be in charge of our plane to make sure everything was absolutely correct and procedures were carried out." 

 with Carmen McIntosh