Searchers found the plane that plunged into Tulloch Reservoir about noon Monday in 110 feet of water, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Officials did not release any information on the pilot, who was believed to be the only person on the aircraft.
Officials said the pilot was traveling from Stanislaus County to Tuolumne County.
The plane reportedly struck a power line and fell into the lake midday Sunday in the Poker Flat area. Emergency operators received 13 reports of a plane going into the reservoir between 11:39 a.m. and 12:07 p.m. Sunday, according to Calaveras County sheriff’s staff.
The plane was a Piper PA-11, said Keith Holloway, a media relations specialist with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident.
The plane sank before witnesses could get to the plane.
As of Monday afternoon, the plane’s identifying N number remained under wraps. Federal investigators and local law enforcement said they were not releasing information about the plane before the pilot is found alive or his next-of-kin have been notified.
Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Anthony Eberhardt said Monday afternoon the pilot’s next of kin had not yet been identified.
Eberhardt said Monday afternoon that he could not confirm or deny if the plane was connected in any way with the Columbia Airport Father's Day Fly-In.
Benedict Stuth, the airport manager at Columbia Airport and an organizer of the Columbia Airport Father’s Day Fly-In, did not respond to calls for comment.
Father’s Day Fly-In organizers said in a schedule update before their event that they expected the Columbia Airport runway to be closed for aerial demonstrations and car drag racing from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tuolumne County business owner Denise Calavan said online her father spoke to the pilot at the Columbia Airport Father’s Day Fly-In and “he was in a rush to get out” of Columbia Airport because it was closing at 12 noon. Calavan could not be reached to comment.
Phil Seely posted online, “I witnessed this entire crash. As a pilot myself. I was lost for words. I couldn’t believe it. I contacted authorities ASAP but this was truly devastating to witness and my deepest condolences go out to the family during this time. May God watch over you all, always.”
Seely could not be reached for comment.
“Yea. He hit power lines and plane sunk,” Tracie Santos said in a post she confirmed in a phone interview. “So sad.. my boys were there, he was flying low and cruising around, went unsteady and under after hit.”
One of Santos’ sons who witnessed the crash could not be reached for comment.
Judy Spinner Miller said on online, “Saw the plane go by my BR window at 11:39am. Shortly thereafter the power went out. Little yellow plane was so low I could see pilot through plane window. I live on shores of Lake Tulloch. I hope pilot is okay.”
Spinner Miller could not be reached for comment.
Outages from the plane striking power lines were reported from 11:41 a.m. Sunday onward, according to a Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson. The outages affected 776 customers initially. The utility turned off an additional 2,402 customers to repair and inspect the lines. Those 2,402 were turned back on at 12:29 p.m. All customers were restored by 6:24 p.m. Sunday.
Multiple agencies were involved in the search for the pilot and his plane Sunday and Monday. Divers were among the searchers. Some searchers were using remote-control underwater craft to look for the pilot and his plane. As many as eight paid law enforcement and two search-and-rescue volunteers were involved on three boats Sunday and Monday.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.