At approximately 8:00 p.m. last night, May 15, 2019, the Sheriff’s Office was notified of an overdue aircraft out of the Santa Ynez Airport. The pilot had left earlier in the afternoon in his 2006 Aviat fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft for a solo, short flight around the area. His family became concerned when he did not return and was not in contact with them. A tracking system indicated that his plane was in the Figueroa Mountain Road area approximately two miles south of Ranger Peak. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit was contacted and begin flying the area but due to the dark and foggy conditions, search efforts were suspended. A plan was formulated to resume search efforts at daybreak.
At approximately 3:00 a.m. this morning, May 16, 2019, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team was deployed. The team assembled and formulated a plan to reach the remote area where the plane’s final radar track was detected by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. At daybreak, the team drove into the area in 4X4 vehicles and a UTV (Utility Vehicle) and begin searching by foot. Using binoculars, at approximately 7:30 a.m. they were able to spot what appeared to be aircraft wreckage on the side of a steep hillside known as Goat Rock. An Air Support team flew over the location and confirmed there was a wrecked plane as well as a decedent about 100 feet on the ridge below.
It took Sheriff’s Search and Rescue about an hour and a half to climb up a steep ridgeline to a point above the wreckage where they then utilized ropes to rappel down to the decedent. Search and Rescue and Air Support teams worked together to recover the decedent. He was hoisted out of the area by Copter 3 and was turned over to the Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office at the Santa Barbara Airport.
The decedent has been identified as being 68-year-old Pierre Josefsohn of Solvang. Josefsohn was an experienced pilot and its unknown as this time what led to the fatal crash. The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation and the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.