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Searchers wait for chance to look for plane

Friday 25 Jan 2013 6:05 p.m.

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Search teams face another 12 hours of waiting before attempting to reach the location of a missing plane in Antarctica.

The aircraft carrying three Canadians went down on Wednesday night in a mountain range on a flight from the South Pole.

Severe weather has frustrated searchers for a second day with winds up to 170km/h.

Pilot Bob Heath was flying the Twin Otter with a co-pilot and engineer. Heath's friend Willard Hagen says he's vastly experienced in polar conditions.

“This guy's an extreme pilot, he won't be scared, too busy surviving,” he says.

Heath's also worked with New Zealand crews in Antarctica.

Rescue teams are on standby to be flown to search site in two helicopters, one of them a Southern Lakes Squirrel.

They'll fly from McMurdo base, making fuel stops enroute before reaching the plane's location in the Queen Alexandra range -  a 650km trip.

The plane's emergency locator has stopped transmitting but it was expected to run out of power. Before it did, it gave rescuers a precise location where the aeroplane went down on a mountainside nearly 4000m above sea level.

Conditions are expected to improve tomorrow, raising hopes the plane and its crew will be found.

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