Search for missing pilot suspended

U.S. Coast Guard officials said they have suspended a search Friday afternoon for the pilot of an experimental aircraft that crashed off of Point Reyes Thursday night.

The Coast Guard was notified by the North American Aerospace Defense Command at 7:40 p.m. on Thursday that a civilian experimental Lancair aircraft that had departed from Palmdale, Calif. was not responding to communications and was heading out to sea.

The Coast Guard called in Air Force fighter jets, which were able to locate the air craft and fly near it, but could not get a response from the solo pilot.

Air Force crews were approximately three miles behind the aircraft when it crashed around 10:39 p.m. about 460 miles off of Point Reyes, according to the Coast Guard.

The Air Force planes dropped buoys and a life raft in the area, but a five-hour search of a 368-square mile area has located debris but no signs of the pilot, coast guard officials said.

In a statement on Friday, Coast Guard Capt. Ward Sandlin expressed his condolences:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the missing pilot.”

The crash will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.