One killed in Novato small plane crash

One person died when a small plane headed from Oregon to San Carlos crashed in Marin County near Novato on Monday night, local and federal authorities said.

The pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft, which departed from Brookings, Oregon, reported having engine problems around 9:30 p.m. Monday and said he would try to make it to the airport at Gnoss Field in Novato, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

However, air traffic controllers lost radio contact with the pilot shortly afterward and the plane crashed, Gregor said. Marin County sheriff’s Lt. Doug Pittman said heavy fog hampered search efforts in the remote and hilly terrain where the plane crashed.

The wreckage was eventually found early Tuesday morning with one fatality reported on board, sheriff’s officials said. Gregor said the pilot is believed to be the only person on the plane.

The crash apparently sparked a brush fire that was reported at 3:09 a.m. on a rural ranch in western Marin County north of Hicks Valley. The blaze had burned about 40 acres and was 75 percent contained as of 8 a.m. today, county officials said.

More information about the pilot and aircraft were not immediately available. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, Gregor said.