SANTA PAULA (CBSLA.com) — Officials said the wreckage of a small twin-engine plane that is believed to have crashed days ago has been found in a remote part of Santa Paula.
The wreckage was found reportedly by a passerby around 3 p.m. Saturday near Loftus Canyon Road and Morgan Canyon Road.
Authorities said the pilot was found dead. There were no passengers on board.
The wreckage of the Cessna 337 was found in a mountainous area about four miles from the Santa Paula Airport.
CBS2’s Laurie Perez said the victim has been identified as a senior who lived in Ojai with his wife.
The man’s wife said he went out for a quick flight this morning but never returned home.
Locals said the man took the plane out hundreds of times without incident.
No witnesses saw the crash.
The plane came down in a remote area that is difficult to access, Perez reported. A maintenance man spotted the wreckage.
“He thought perhaps it was a car that went over the side and upon further investigation he realized it was an aircraft and called 911,” said Capt. John Harber with the Santa Paula Police Department.
“We went over the side to investigate and found one adult male who was deceased,” said Harber.
The fire captain believes early-morning fog might have hidden the crash from public view.
Michael Jewett saw the pilot just yesterday. He identified the man as Jim Breeding.
“I saw his airplane taxi out and get prepared for flight in the afternoon,” said Jewett.
Jan Breeding says her husband owned the plane for years and had been flying since he was 16-years-old.
She said aviation was his lifelong hobby and passion. She said her husband left around 8:30 this morning to meet friends in the sky.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
Breeding was 82 years old.
The FAA’s mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots is 65; however, that limit does not apply to private pilots.