A major search has resumed for the pilot of an ultra-light plane feared crashed in bushland in northeast NSW.

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VIDEO Major search underway for downed ultra-light plane. 7News Major search underway for downed ultra-light plane

The plane was last seen taking off from Murwillumbah airport about 10am on Tuesday with only the 72-year-old male pilot on board.

Emergency services were alerted shortly after 10.45am when a member of the public spotted the aircraft in trouble near Limpinwood.

The male pilot didn't reach his destination. Photo: 7 News

The plane did not reach its destination prompting a large land and air search to begin in bushland between Tyalgum and Chilligham.

The ground search was called off about 6pm on Tuesday, but helicopters using night vision continued to scour the area late into the evening until fog set in.

A search helicopter took off at 6am on Wednesday with another on its way to join the search, an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesman said.

The pilot had just bought the lime green plane from Tasmania and flew it up to NSW.

Friends of the man told 7 News he is a very experienced pilot and that if something went wrong, it went wrong with the plane and not him.

The area where the plane is missing is quite treacherous, making it hard for rescue crews to find the plane. Photo: 7 News

The 72-year-old was a charter pilot for a living, flying out of Brisbane airport.

Witnesses reported seeing a low-flying plane which has helped refine the search area, but the green-coloured plane may be camouflaged in the rugged bushland, making the search more difficult, he said.

It's understood one witness told police he saw a wing come off the plane.

Friends are gathering at Murwillumbah airport, holding out hope that the man is alright.

AAP

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