Small aircraft departs Phoenix, crashes into Pacific Ocean

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POINT REYES, Calif. (KTVU) -- An experimental plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean 460 miles off Point Reyes Thursday night, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
 
There was one person aboard the civilian experimental-type Lancair plane that departed Palmdale, and the pilot was not responding to communications as the aircraft headed out to sea.
 
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the Lancair Evolution departed Phoenix Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Ariz. at 6:16 p.m. local time for a flight to Hesperia in San Bernardino County, and it's believed only the pilot was on board.
 
Air traffic controllers lost communication with the pilot as the plane flew west at 25,000 feet and they were unable to contact the pilot despite repeated attempts, Gregor said.
 
The FAA lost radar contact with the plane over the ocean about 350 miles west of the Bay Area.
 
The Coast Guard notified mariners of the situation and asked them to help locate the plane and pilot, and an Air Force KC-135 aircraft and two F-16 aircrews and an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento joined the search effort, the Coast Guard said.
 
The F-16 crews flew near the aircraft but could not get a response from the pilot, and the crew of an HC-130 aircraft that was about three miles behind the experimental aircraft saw it crash into the ocean around 10:39 p.m.
 
The Air Force KC-135 crew dropped a sonar buoy and the HC-130 crew dropped two self-locating data marking buoys and a life raft, but all the air crews reported seeing no signs of the pilot, the Coast Guard said.
 
The Marshal Islands-flagged tanker Neptun is also searching for the plane, and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, the Coast Guard said.

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