Porter, 68, activated an emergency beacon about 1.30pm Monday from his red 1930s aircraft.

The five missing passengers have been named: Porter’s wife Kath, 61; Les and Janice D’Evlin, 75 and 61; and John and Carol Dawson, both 63.

The search has concentrated on an area around Gympie and Nambour, starting with seven choppers before another eight from around the area joined later in the day.

Brisbane’s Courier-Mail reports a refuelling tanker was set up at Kenilworth, where police are basing operations, to service the search party.

They’re working with little information after the de Havilland DH84 Dragon reported strife over the Jimna Range near Kilcoy.

Locals from the region are chipping in, taking motorbikes into forest areas not able to be seen from the air.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre Australia is running the search over a 1500sqkm area, directing all helicopters according to a grid pattern they’ve design to cover the area.

A Dornier aircraft with heat-seeking radar is also involved in the search, but is yet to spot the plane or any survivors.

Action Rescue CEO David Donaldson said more eyes would find Porter’s party, not technology.

‘We need to fly low and be right over the trees looking down,’ he said. ’You could be a few hundred metres from the aircraft and not be able to see it.’

He added they didn’t expect to find the red plane unharmed. 

Image via AAP