Solvang Pilot Flying Solo Dies in Plane Crash in Los Padres National Forest

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A search and rescue team responds to a crash site where a singe-engine plane went down, killing a pilot from Solvang, May 16, 2019. (Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office)

A search and rescue team responds to a crash site where a singe-engine plane went down, killing a pilot from Solvang, May 16, 2019. (Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

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A Solvang pilot died in a single-engine plane crash in the Los Padres National Forest, officials said Thursday.

Pierre Josefsohn, 68, was flying solo in his 2006 Aviat fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft Wednesday afternoon when his family grew concerned after he failed to return, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. He had left for a brief flight around the area.

The department was notified around 8 p.m. when Josefsohn had still not contacted family members.

Authorities searched that evening and early Thursday morning before spotting the wreckage and Josefsohn’s body around 8 a.m.

Josefsohn has been described by authorities as an experienced pilot and it’s not known what led to the crash. A death investigation is being led by the Sheriff’s Office while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the incident.

In the Los Padres National Forest, on May 16, 2019, a search and rescue team looks for the wreckage of a plane crash that killed a solo pilot the day before. (Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office)
In the Los Padres National Forest, on May 16, 2019, a search and rescue team looks for the wreckage of a plane crash that killed a solo pilot the day before. (Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

According to the Sheriff’s Office, its air support unit began searching for the crash site in the Figueroa Mountain Road area about two miles south of Ranger Peak on Wednesday evening. A tracking system had indicated the aircraft was there but authorities were unable to keep searching due to dark and foggy conditions that night.

The following morning, about 3 a.m. on Thursday, officials responded to a remote area where the plane’s final radar track was detected by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, authorities said.

They drove into the area in 4X4 vehicles and a UTV, searching on foot for hours before finally spotting the wreckage using binoculars, authorities said. The crash site was found on a steep hillside known as Goat Rock about 7:30 a.m.

An air support unit flew over the area and confirmed a wrecked plane and body could be seen on a ridge about 100 feet below, authorities said.

To reach the remote area, search and rescue officials climbed up a steep ridgeline for about an hour and half before reaching a point above the wreckage where they could use ropes to rappel down to the victim’s body, authorities said. His body was then hoisted out and turned over to coroner’s officials.

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