Members of the California Wing located the wreckage of a missing Mooney aircraft with a single pilot on board Wednesday morning in mountainous terrain near Lake Hughes in Los Angeles County. The pilot did not survive.
The aircraft was reported overdue Tuesday after the pilot’s neighbors alerted Kern County Sheriff’s Office to barking dogs at his home. Sheriff’s officials determined the pilot, who routinely flew between Tehachapi Municipal Airport , where the plane was based, and the Los Angeles area, was last seen at the Tehachapi airport around 9 a.m. Jan. 12. No flight plan had been filed, and the plane’s intended destination was unclear.
The California Wing was activated Tuesday evening by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to initiate a search for the missing aircraft. A wing aircrew flew an electronic route search Tuesday night between Tehachapi and Whiteman Airport in Pacoima but heard no pings from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.
After overnight efforts by Civil Air Patrol’s National Radar Analysis Team narrowed down the initial search area, a second aircrew and a ground team launched from Whiteman Airport just after sunrise Wednesday to conduct a visual search in the mountainous area between the communities of Castaic and Lake Hughes, within Angeles National Forest.
The downed aircraft was located about 7:45 a.m., about an hour into the air search. An eight-member California Wing ground team confirmed the wreckage on a steep hillside as that of the missing Mooney at 8:15 a.m., and the team reported what appeared to be one fatality at the site.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter was dispatched to the site and the coroner’s office notified. The sheriff’s department asked the ground team members to remain at the wreckage until the coroner’s office arrived.
“While the outcome of this mission was not what we hoped for, I’m thankful we were able to provide closure to the pilot’s family members and friends,” said Capt. Charles Christian, incident commander for the California Wing. “I’m proud of the professionalism demonstrated by members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing, who worked tirelessly through the night to plan and prepare for the visual search phase.
“Their training and hard work brought swift resolution to an unfortunate situation.”
The search mission involved 43 wing members, two planes and two vehicles,