DAY 3: LifeFlight fly 'low and slow' along coast in search
Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight helicopter pilot Franco Bertoli is one of many, who have been out looking for a man, 54, who reportedly fell overboard of Saturday.
Mr Bertoli, who was also involved in the search for the missing crew of fishing vessel Dianne, said the LifeFlight crew had spent the past three days searching over the water and conducting coastline searches for the missing man.
Authorities received a mayday call on Saturday (June 27th), from a sail boat, in an area east of Middle Island, in the Gladstone region, and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was activated shortly after the call.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority tasked the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter to join two other helicopters, an AMSA Challenger Jet, Volunteer Marine Rescue and Queensland Water Police vessels in conducting a large-scale search.
Mr Bertoli said the search area was around 150 square miles over water, with the two other helicopters and a fixed-wing plane looking for the man.
While weather has been "pretty good for searching", he said there had been some swell and white caps making it hard to spot things in the water.
"My understanding is that he fell overboard from the rear of the yacht," he said.
While information is still limited, he said they were looking for a male approximately 20 miles to the east of Seventeen Seventy.
"I believe the other person on the yacht threw a kayak out to assist him, whilst he was going to get a lifejacket for him," he said.
Mr Bertoli said a kayak was found by LifeFlight on Day 1 and the search was conducted around that area before moving north on Day 2 and then the coastline today.
"We are conducting coastal searches at the moment in case he's sitting on a rocky outcrop or waiting to be rescued somewhere closer in than where he actually fell in the water," he said.
"We started around Seventeen Seventy and fly low and slow, looking along the beach all the way around to Bustard Head and all the way around to the Turkey Beach area."
Mr Bertoli said if people are on the beach or out on the water, to keep an eye out for a male in need of assistance.
It is Mr Bertoli's understanding that there was just two people on the boat.
He said their crew alone would have spent about 15 hours in the sky searching for the man.
Mr Bertoli is encouraging everyone to wear a lifejacket while on their vessels, and ensure you have an up-to-date and registered Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) that you carry with you.
A PLB will aid emergency services' search efforts if you go overboard, or something happens to you while out on the water.
Mr Bertoli said he believes the crew could be tasked to search again tomorrow.