The wreckage of an ex-military fighter jet which plummeted into the coast off Melbourne with two people on board has been found.
A wide-scale search for the wreckage continued into its third day on Tuesday, with police saying the hunt for celebrated cameraman James Rose and pilot Stephen Gale was now a ‘recovery mission’.
The pair were on board the jet when it plummeted into Port Phillip Bay, near Mount Martha, on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Gale is the owner of aviation company Jetworks Aviation which was involved in the crash, while Mr Rose worked on shows such as MasterChef.
Victoria Police, Port of Melbourne Authority and the Coast Guard have been scouring the bay since Sunday, searching an area around three nautical miles.
The wreckage of an ex-military fighter jet which plummeted into the coast off Melbourne with two people on board has been found. A police boat is pictured
The wide-scale search for the wreckage continued into its third day on Tuesday. A helicopter involved in the search is pictured
They had no luck in the first two days of the search after finding a plane tyre and what was possibly part of the wing on the weekend.
Shortly before midday on Monday a large part of the body of the plane was located off the shore of Mornington.
Police are working to remove the wreckage from the water, at which time it will be searched.
The two ex-military fighter jets collided mid-air approximately 12km off the coast, with Mr Rose’s jet plunging 20 metres into the water while the second plane managed to return to Essendon Airport while raising the alarm.
It is understood Mr Rose was filming for a documentary TV show called Any Fool Can Fly when the jet he was in and another collided.
The show, which reportedly had its name changed to Jet School, was a five-part series in development without the backing of a broadcaster.
The premise of the show revolved around student pilots, from varying backgrounds, facing off to become more qualified pilots.
A promotional video introducing the concept is captioned with: ‘What would happen if you took a group of highly skilled individuals and taught them to fly, but didn’t stop there … Could they fly a fighter jet?’
Mr Gale is one of three instructors listed as appearing in the show, tasked with passing on his ‘love of aviation’ to three student pilots, including comedian Tommy Little, maxillofacial surgeon Dr Mehrnoosh Dastaran and engineer Dr Jillian Kenny.
Formerly an RAAF engineer, Mr Gale’s company owns the two Viper S-211 Marchetti jet planes which collided.
Search and rescue crews found the wreckage of the plane on Tuesday morning. Photo: 9News
Missing pilot Stephen Gale (left) is pictured with his partner Victoria Lowen, who is also a pilot
Sonar equipment is being used to scan the sea floor in an attempt to locate any sunken wreckage, as boats and planes search the surface for any debris that remains afloat.
It is being investigated whether a midair collision with a second jet was the cause of the accident.
Victoria Police Inspector Terry Rowlands said what happened was ‘unbelievably tragic’ and the search would continue until divers could locate the men.
It has been revealed current Qantas and former RAAF pilot, Joanne Mein, was on board the second jet involved, which made it back to Essendon Airport.
James Rose (pictured) is one of the victims of a plane crash in Mt Martha, Melbourne
Ms Mein’s recollection of the incident is expected to play a crucial role in the investigation.
That investigation is expected to take several months according to Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Angus Mitchell.
‘We will go into great detail around maintenance records, pilot qualifications and past sorties that have been conducted,’ he told 3AW.
‘It’s not only detailing what’s occurred but it’s all the things that potentially failed … whether it’s mechanical or potentially human.’
Police officers are pictured onshore at the scene of the search for the missing pilot and passenger