Crews Recover Cessna That Plunged Into San Francisco Bay

Crews working with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office Wednesday recovered the wreckage of a plane that plunged into the San Franciso Bay last weekend after colliding with a Korean War-era plane.

A marine salvage company was involved in recovering the plane's fuselage with the pilot's remains still inside from the bay around 4:30 p.m. The pilot's name has not yet been released.

The coroner's division of the sheriff's office has taken custody of the body.

The collision occurred late Sunday afternoon near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Witnesses at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor said the Cessna spiraled out of control and crashed into the choppy water. Debris was found in the bay after the collision.

Jimmy Lee from the sheriff's department said the San Francisco Police Department had located the plane's fuselage at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Lee said divers from the Contra Costa sheriff's office went into the water. to confirm that the fuselage belonged to the missing plane.

"From the very begining our goal has been to find the fuselage as we believe the remains of missing pilot is contained in it," Lee said. "Once the fuselage has been confirmed, we can begin the recovery process."

Lee said that the sheriff's department was working closely with the NTSB and other rescue teams on the recovery process. He said that crews had recovered the wings and other small parts of the plane from the water.

An underwater camera was used by crews Tuesday to search for the wreckage.

Search crews found the wreckage of the Cessna Monday in 13-feet-deep water, approximately 11/2 miles off of the Richmond shoreline. Wreckage and items believed to be from the plane were also recovered.

The Sheriff Marine Patrol Unit worked with the NTSB and a salvage company to recover the plane.

The midair collision occurred when one pilot attempted a passing maneuver, lead National Transportation Safety Board investigator Howard Plagens said.

The pilot of a vintage Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20 pulled up to the left side of a travelling companion flying a Cessna 210 when the Sea Fury's pilot heard a "thump" and immediately focused on trying to fly his own plane to land safely, Plagens said.

Plagens said the pilot saw the Cessna going down but did not see it crash.

"Obviously, he's still shaken up," said Plagens, who interviewed the surviving pilot twice. Plagens added that he hopes to have a preliminary report about the crash by Friday.

Plagens inspected the Hawker, which suffered tail damage, and said he's awaiting the recovery of the Cessna to continue his investigation.

It was not immediately clear why the planes were flying so close together during the passing maneuver.

The Coast Guard has determined the name of the single-engine Cessna 210's pilot but has not released that information publicly because authorities are still working to contact the pilot's family, Dykman said.

The Hawker landed safely at the Eagle's Nest Airport in the small California city of Ione in Amador County at about 4:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Both planes had departed from Eagle's Nest Airport to participate in the Pacific Coast Dream Machines, an annual festival at Half Moon Bay Airport that features a variety of planes, motorcycles and cars.

Both planes left Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, and were on their return flight to Ione.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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