THERE have been many mysteries in the air and in the sea around Montrose over the past 100 years, connected with flying machines.
And the latest, which happened last Tuesday, may rank among the most difficult yet to solve.
At about 3.40pm, Mr David Pullar, snr., was just one of a number of people who had been aware of a microlight soaring in the sky, near Usan, where his family business, Usan Salmon Fisheries, is located.
Mr Pullar had been watching the aircraft and said the microlight was around 300 yards off the coast.
When he became alarmed, it was about 100 feet in the air and losing height rapidly.
Mr Pullar added that the microlight seemed to hit the water and disappear very quickly in an area where the water is 30 to 40 feet deep.
It was north-east of a rocky outcrop known as Long Craig.
He rushed to call the Coastguard, and by then there was no trace of the microlight.
Conditions were good on a cold, bright afternoon, although there was a sea swell.
A major sea search was immediately mounted by members of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, assisted by the Montrose lifeboat RNLB Moonbeam, the inshore boat, and a helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth.
Nothing was found, and although the search was resumed the following day, that remained the position. It may be that the aircraft plunged cleanly into the water and that it now lies, still intact, on the seabed.
Meanwhile, Mr Pullar’s sighting was confirmed by the crew of a fishing boat, who also raised the alarm.
Police have asked both locally and nationally for information about any missing microlight or similar aircraft. There has been no response from airports or flying clubs, and nobody has been reported missing. The possibility still exists that the machine may have been piloted by a private individual, and perhaps flown from his or her own property. The search has been stood down.
Tayside Police request the public to consider any friends or relatives who may be involved in this type of activity. If they have any concerns about their current whereabouts they should contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 222.
Inspector Mark McInally said: “Could it be the case that this was someone who had journeyed to the area alone on a short break or holiday to enjoy this type of pursuit and loved ones remain unaware that they are missing?”
This was echoed by the British Microlight Aircraft Association, which said the pilot could have come from a long distance away on a legitimate unregistered flight, and the disappearance had not yet been noted.
And there the mystery remains.