Whither did it go? Whereabouts of missing ultralight not traced yet

POKHARA: It has already been six days since an ultralight aircraft went missing over Pokhara sky. With no any signal of its whereabouts till today, aviation stakeholders are baffled.

The 9NALI flight had taken off the Pokhara Airport with a pilot and a passenger, at 10:35 am on October 8.

The Airport officials have suspected that the aircraft has crashed, but they have not found any wreckage yet.

The craft was being piloted by a Russian national Valerie Putin (50) and he was accompanied by a South African woman, the 40-year-old Elizabeth Well.

Chief of the Airport, Deepak Baral, said Well's mobile phone was connected from the NCell tower for the last time, at around 2:30 pm on October 8. The connection had shown that the mobile set was in Aarukharka area of Syangja district.

The phone, however, was not received, he added.

Consequently, the search operation has been centred on Aarukharka area, of late.

Other ultralight aircraft, locals, army and police personnel have been involved in the operation from air and land routes, informed Kaski District Police Office Chief, SP Hari Bahadur Pal.

"We have left no stone unturned," he said, "We are not hopeless yet."

Pom Narayan Shrestha of Pokhara Ultralight, the company which owned the missing craft, said the aircraft with a closed body and fixed wings can fly over the sky for only four hours.

The aircraft costs Rs 30 million, he added. It was purchased from Germany in October last year.

Pokhara so far has recorded only one fatal ultralight accident since the service was launched in 1996. Nepali pilot Stephan Shrestha and Chinese tourist Jun Liu were killed on October 3, 2013.