68-year-old experienced pilot flying solo dies in plane crash in Los Padres National Forest

68-year-old experienced pilot flying solo dies in plane crash in Los Padres National Forest

Officials said on Thursday, May 16, that a Solvang pilot died in a single-engine plane crash in the Los Padres National Forest. The pilot, 68-year-old Pierre Josefsohn, was flying alone in his 2006 Aviat fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft on Wednesday afternoon when his family grew worried after he failed to return home. According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Josefsohn had left to go for a brief flight around the area.

KTLA reported that the department was informed of the situation at around 8 pm when the elderly man had still not contacted any members of his family. Authorities searched through that evening and early on Thursday morning spotted the wreckage with Josefsohn's body at around 8 am.

(Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office)

Authorities described Josefsohn as an experienced pilot and it is still not known what led to the fatal crash. An investigation into his death is being led by the Sheriff's Office while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the crash.

According to the Sheriff's Office, an air support unit started searching for the site of the crash in the Figueroa Mountain Road area, around two miles south of Ranger Peak on Wednesday, May 15, evening. A tracking system on the aircraft indicated its location but authorities were not able to look for it due to dark and foggy conditions that night.

At around 3 am the following morning, officials responded to a remote area where the plane's final radar track was found by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Authorities then drove to the area in 4X4 vehicles and a UTV, and finally spotted the wreckage using binoculars after having searched on foot for hours. The crash site was located on a steep hillside known as Goat Rock at around 7.30 am.


Authorities said that an air support unit flew over the area and subsequently confirmed that there was a wrecked plane as well as a body on a ridge about 100 feet below.

In order to reach the remote location, search and rescue officials climbed up a steep ridgeline for around an hour and a half before they reached the point above the wreck where they were able to use ropes to rappel down to the victim's body. Josefsohn's body was then hoisted out from the location and handed over to coroner's officials.

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