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Homebuilt plane sold last year for $100,000 crashes into ocean off California coast, likely killing 4 people

Rebecca Rommen   

Homebuilt plane sold last year for $100,000 crashes into ocean off California coast, likely killing 4 people
  • A homebuilt aircraft crashed into the ocean just south of San Francisco on Sunday.
  • Four people were reportedly on board the flight when it went down.

A small homebuilt aircraft crashed off the coast of California on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Federal investigators said they believed four people had been traveling in the single-engine Cozy Mark IV when it crashed at Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco.

No survivors were found and just one body had been discovered as of Friday.

While no official cause has been given for the crash, a witness said that they had heard the plane's engine cut out after losing power, per The AP.

In a post on Facebook, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said: "Authorities responded to reports of a small airplane flying erratically near Moss Beach, CA."

"A Coast Guard helicopter and a CHP fixed wing plane were deployed to assist. Later in the evening, debris was found in the ocean near the coastline, consistent with parts from a plane," it continued.

But the following morning, authorities said a fishing boat spotted a "deceased female" in the water, which they said was "likely associated with the plane crash given she was located in the same location."

7News reported that the victim had been identified as 27-year-old San Francisco local Emma Willmer-Shiles.

The outlet also reported that two of the other passengers on board the flight were a newly engaged couple, Australian Lochie Ferrier and Cassidy Petit.

Thane Ostroth, a retired dentist who built the plane, called the tragedy "traumatic," per The AP. "It's just a horrible feeling," he said.

Ostroth said he sold his aircraft last year to a young Australian man for around $100,000. He said the buyer seemed knowledgeable about planes and was able to land the aircraft perfectly on a test flight.

Aeronautical engineer Marc Zeitlin, who works with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Cozy aircraft crash investigations, told The AP that the planes had a comparable safety record to commercial aircraft that are around the same size.

"The misconception is that these are put together by baling wire and glue," Zeitlin said. "But they are built using aircraft methodology."

According to the NTSB, "Experimental amateur-built aircraft represent a growing segment of the United States' general aviation fleet."

"Amateur-built aircraft" are required to go through airworthiness checks carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or a Designated Airworthiness Representative.

The Cozy Mark IV is 16.9 feet long with a wing span of 28.1 feet. It has a top speed of 200 mph and can travel around 1,000 miles, per Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., which sells plans for the Mark IV.


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