Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 17:29 UK

Light plane missing in blizzard

Ptarmigan restaurant
The aircraft is missing over the Cairngorms

A search is under way in the Cairngorms for a light aircraft which has been reported missing in bad weather.

The alert was raised shortly before 1100 BST when the aircraft, with one person on board, lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The aircraft is reported to have been seen heading south in the area of the Ptarmigan restaurant at the top of the Cairngorm funicular railway.

Two rescue helicopters are searching an area of about 50 square miles.

Weather conditions in the area are described as severe, with poor visibility and snow showers.

The aircraft set off from Carlisle at about 0900 BST.

However, it is believed its journey began in Wolverhampton.

One has to remember what the weather can be like up there, it can be quite Arctic
Michael Mulford
RAF spokesman

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford said the alarm was raised when the pilot lost contact with controllers who had been speaking to him at regular intervals.

He suggested fears were growing for the man but he stressed rescuers were still holding on to the possibility there could be a happy resolution to the alert.

Mr Mulford said: "At the moment, we cannot say that he has indeed crashed but he is feared missing.

"It's simply at the alert stage. It has not officially reached distress stage or anything like that because it's early days.

"But one has to remember what the weather can be like up there, it can be quite Arctic."

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