Crews Locate Missing Plane That Plunged Into San Francisco Bay

The missing plane has been located in San Pablo Bay.

Search crews found the wreckage of a Cessna Monday that plunged into the San Francisco Bay after colliding with a Korean War-era show plane.

The Contra Costa County sheriff's Infrastructure Protection Team, which found the aircraft, did not immediately say whether the pilot of the plane was found.

The plane was found in water that is about 13 feet deep, approximately 11/2 miles off of the Richmond shoreline. Officials did not comment on the condiiton of the plane, but they said it might be in several pieces. Wreckage and items believed to be from the plane were also recovered.

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

The Cessna went down about a mile north of the Brother Islands, near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, after colliding with a single-engine Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20 at 4:30 p.m. Sunday after heading home from an air show, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Federal officials said that the crash may have happened when one plane tried to pass the other.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the Cessna pilot and his plane around noon Monday and turned over the search to the sheriff's office, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Joshua Dykman said.

The sheriff's office said on Twitter at 2:13 p.m. that the plane had been located but did not provide further details.

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.

Some debris had been found in the water during a morning search, Dykman said. The pilot was the only person on board.

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

A witness to a mid-air collision over the Richmond San Rafael-Bridge first thought the two planes were showing off. But she quickly realized her first impression was wrong.

"The next thing I know, I see the Cessna spiraling down," said Bonny Dunn, a mechanic who works for Southwest at the Oakland International Airport. "It's like watching somebody die in front of you. You know there is no possible way you can survive."

Philip Fritz and Noble Griswold were on board Griswold’s sailboat the E-Ticket when they witnessed the midair collision over the San Pablo Bay.

"The Cessna went directly up into the air and it sustained what looked like you just took a saw straight down through the right wing," Fritz said.

Griswold and Fritz along with six other sailors completed the Vallejo yacht club race a short time before the midair collision. Griswold and his crew were the first on the scene of the crash.

Amador County firefighters and medics sent to the Ione airport were not needed because the pilot and passenger in the Sea Fury, a husband and wife, were not injured, county Undersheriff Jim Wegner said.

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.

An NTSB official will be interviewing the pilot of the plane that made it back to land and reviewing the pilots' backgrounds, agency spokesman Terry Williams said.

On its Facebook page, the group wrote that organizers are "terribly saddened by this news and we hope and pray the missing plane and survivors are found."

Wegner wouldn't discuss damage to the Sea Fury, citing the ongoing investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

FAA records indicate the Sea Fury, a vintage British fighter plane, is registered to Sanders Aeronautics Inc. in Ione. A man who answered the phone at the company's listed number declined to comment.

Sanders Aeronautics' website said the family-run company specializes in aircraft restoration, and brothers Dennis and Brian Sanders are avid air racers.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd, Riya Bhattacharjee, The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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