A Kiwi paraglider pilot and former Wānaka resident has been missing for almost three weeks in the western United States.
It is feared that James "Kiwi" Oroc Johnston crashed in Nevada, where he went paragliding on August 22. He took off from the Shoshone Mountain range in Nye County and his last recorded location was just above Ninemile Peak, but it is believed he may have become separated from his GPS tracker or that it stopped working.
A dual citizen of the US and New Zealand, Oroc has been a worldwide paragliding athlete for over 30 years. He reportedly began paragliding after he moved to Wanaka in the 1980s.
An extensive search and rescue operation was suspended by authorities after a week, but a private search coordinated by his family has continued with a team of volunteers - both on the ground and online, where people worldwide have been assessing changes in satellite imagery around the remote area, looking for potential clues.
According to sister, Kim Johnston, the search is being carried out by “professionals using drones, ATV, dirt bikes, and experienced hikers, planes and helicopters in order to cover the additional trajectory and deepen the focused hiking areas while keeping the team safe by utilizing proper tracking technologies.”
Oroc’s family in New Zealand has put up a 10,000 USD finder’s reward in the hope that experienced local people will come out to aid in the search. and have set up a fundraising page to help cover the costs, which has raised almost 10,000 USD.
His family asked that anyone with the experience or resources to support the search email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/missing-paraglider-pilot-needs-help.
Read edition 991 of the Wānaka Sun here.