Dismasted yacht was out of rescue range

The passengers and crew of two commercial aeroplanes have helped to rescue a missing sailor.

The yachtsman was dismasted 300 miles off New South Wales, Australia and had been missing for more than 16 hours.

The 44-year-old was outside of helicopter range and it would have taken hours for rescue vessels to reach the location where he activated his GPS search beacon – where he may no longer have been.

Therefore, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) asked the pilots of an Air Canada and an Air New Zealand flight to divert from their paths to search for the yacht.

Passengers with binoculars in their hand luggage were asked to help with the search, as the planes swooped below 4,000 feet.

One passenger on the Air Canada flight, which was travelling from Sydney to Vancouver, later wrote on Facebook: ‘Amazing, and slightly off-putting, to see what a Boeing 777 aircraft can do when not on autopilot and flying/circling low over the sea.’

Several passengers and crew eventually spotted the man and he was subsequently rescued without injury.

An AMSA spokesman said: ‘We thank the captains and crews for their assistance in the search-and-rescue operation, and their passengers for their patience.’

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