A CAAP search and rescue operation is ongoing for Capt. Jose Nelson "Joey" Yapparcon and student pilot Abdullah Alsharif who went missing aboard a Beechcraft Baron 55 trainer aircraft on May 17, 2019, after flying out of San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro. (Photo courtesy of Mrs. Lyn Garces-Yapparcon's FB public post)

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is searching for a Beechcraft Baron 55 trainer aircraft that was reported missing since May 17 after taking off from the San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro.

CAAP media bureau chief Eric Apolonio confirmed to Palawan News that their search and rescue (SAR) operation is ongoing for the missing trainer aircraft with “one Filipino pilot in command and one student pilot who is a Saudi national.”

“Hindi namin puwedeng i-announce ‘yong pangalan ng occupants ng aircraft dahil missing pa siya. Out of protocol we cannot make pronouncements on the names, but we can only confirm one Filipino pilot in command at saka isang student pilot na Saudi national,” Apolonio said.

However, reports reaching Palawan News from various sources identified the pilot as Capt. Jose Nelson “Joey” Yapparcon, a resident of Puerto Princesa City, while the Saudi national was named as Abdullah Alsharif.

They went missing around 8:13 a.m. on May 17 aboard the trainer aircraft with tail number RP-C 9078.

Capt. Yapparcon’s wife Lyn Garces-Yapparcon said in her Facebook account that her husband who is from Orient Flying School (OFS) went missing Friday morning after flying out of San Jose Airport.

Lyn said a SAR for her missing pilot husband is now in operation with support from the military.

“There is an ongoing search and rescue operation by the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Philippine Navy (PN), [Philippine] Coast Guard (PCG), the staff and flight crew of Orient Flying School (OFS) and others who extended their help for the search and rescue since Friday,” she said.

But Lyn also said that as of Monday, no sign of Capt. Yapparcon nor the aircraft has been seen.

She asked friends and relatives for prayers for the safe return of Capt. Yapparcon.

“Please include him and my family your prayers that he will be successfully rescued, especially our two kids and the whole search team as well,” she said.

She said any report in the areas of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Semirara, Cuyo and Coron municipalities in Palawan, and other adjacent areas can help the SAR.

Apolonio said the SAR team is being supported by a PAF helicopter, an Islander plane of the PN, and PCG boats.

“Sa dulo ng runway ito ano… ‘yong mula 11 nautical miles so that’s why hindi pa namin ma-ascertain dito. Medyo malawak ‘yong forested area dyan,” Apolonio said.

He added they have no idea of the intended destination of the trainer aircraft.

“‘Yong destination wala akong idea kasi ‘yon lang ang report na nakuha ko,” he said.

Apolonio said the SAR will continue to look for the aircraft and the two missing occupants.

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