ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard is searching for the pilot of a plane that crashed into the Pacific Ocean approximately 460 miles off Pt. Reyes late Thursday night.
At 7:40 p.m. Thursday the 11th Coast Guard District received a report from the U.S. Northern Command that a civilian experimental type Lancair aircraft departed from Palmdale with one person aboard was not responding to communications, and was heading out to sea.
The 11th District issued a SafetyNet and an Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System alert to notify mariners of the situation and ask their assistance in locating the aircraft and its pilot. In coordination with NORTHCOM, the Coast Guard diverted an Air Force KC-135 and two F-16 aircrews along with a Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento aircrew in the search effort. The HC-130 aircrew observed the aircraft crash into the water at 10:39 p.m.
The F-16 crews were able to fly near the aircraft but could not get a response from the pilot. Later the HC-130 aircrew was approximately three mles behind the experimental aircraft when they observed it crash into the ocean at approximately 10:39 p.m.
The KC-135 dropped a sonar buoy, and the HC-130 aircrew dropped two self-locating data marking buoys and a life raft; however, all air crews have reported seeing no signs of the pilot.
The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Neptun responded to the AMVER alert and is currently assisting search efforts.
The Coast Guard is working closely with NORTHCOM and its AMVER partner vessels to locate the aircraft and its pilot.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident.