2 Small Planes Crash in Midair Over San Francisco Bay

By NBC Bay Area Staff
|  Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014  |  Updated 6:55 AM EDT
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Crews resumed searching for a pilot after two planes crashed near the San Rafael Bridge on Sunday. Christie Smith reports.

Crews resumed searching for a pilot after two planes crashed near the San Rafael Bridge on Sunday. Christie Smith reports.

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Two Small Planes Crash in the Air Near Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Pilot Missing

Search crews are looking for a pilot after two small planes crashed in the air in the North Bay Sunday afternoon, according to the Coast Guard. NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere reports from the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor.
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Search crews are looking for a pilot after two small planes crashed in the air in the North Bay Sunday afternoon, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard said a Cessna 210 and Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20 collided in midair about one mile north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. One plane and its pilot landed safely in Ione, Calif. around 4:45 p.m. at the Eagle's Nest Airport more than 100 miles away, but the Cessna crashed into the San Pablo Bay and that pilot remains missing.

"Right in the channel right here, it’s about 40 feet," Coast Guard Lieutenant Jeannie Crump said. "That’s the largest depth right here, but it goes to about 5 feet depending on where the plane went down."

Witnesses who heard the crash said it happened about three miles off the shore of the San Pablo Yacht Harbor.

"My wife came running and told me that two planes had just hit each other," Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor owner Eric Johnson said. "That an old World War II airplane and a Cessna had collided. Cessna lost a wing and spiraled into the water and hit hard."

The Coast Guard, along with support from other government agencies, has crews in the water and in the air searching. Several boats and three helicopters are still searching and the Coast Guard said they will continue overnight.

Debris has only been spotted so far in the water, but no people yet, the Coast Guard said.

"We’ve seen quite a bit of aircraft debris in the water here," Crump said. "We have not seen any persons in the water, and we have one person reported being on the plane that went down."

Johnson, who lives in the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor, said a neighbor immediately went out on a boat to see if he could help.

"Any time something like this happens in the Marina, people jump to help," he said. "Whatever is running, they grab and they go, and he was the nearest vessel."

"Joe said he saw oil and fuel and debris on the top of the water," Johnson added. "No contact with any large debris or couldn’t see the airplane, no bodies."

Each aircraft just had its pilot on board. The Hawker pilot was reportedly uninjured.

Both planes in the collision were involved in the Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show Sunday at Half Moon Bay Airport before the crash, according to a spokesman for the show. The planes were on their way back to Ione Airport after the event had ended, and the two pilots knew each other.

The spokesman for the Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show issued the following statement:

"Everyone associated with the Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show is terribly saddened by this news, and we hope and pray the missing plane and survivors are found."

The FAA and NTSB is investigating the accident, and the identities of pilots have not been released.

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