MANILA: Philippine troops will comb a rugged offshore island in the search for a missing Saudi student pilot and his teacher whose aircraft vanished a month ago shortly after taking off from San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro.
The disappearance of the Beechcraft Baron 55 aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, remains a mystery, officials told Arab News on Monday.
The decision to shift the search to the island of Ambulong was taken at a meeting between the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies last week, according to Chris Enriquez, officer-in-charge of the authority in San Jose.
The island is located northeast of San Jose Airport. Enriquez said that searchers believe the aircraft’s pilot may have glided the aircraft toward Ambulong.
“Maybe the aircraft did not explode. No explosion was heard and there was no smoke, so perhaps the pilot was able to glide the plane toward the island,” he said.
The Philippines Air Force will also assist in the continuing search.
Another official, who asked not to be identified, said the search is considering other angles aside from the “crash,” but stressed that for now, the focus is on the search-and-rescue operation. Asked whether the missing pilots may still be alive, officials said they “are still hoping for the best.”