CALAVERAS COUNTY (CBS13) — After a two-day search, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s office announced the wreckage of the plane that crashed into Lake Tulloch was found Monday around noon.
During the search, officials with the Calaveras and Tuolumne County Sheriffs departments used sonar and underwater remote vehicles to locate the wreckage, 110-feet deep in the lake.
The pilot was identified as Trent Johnson, who was based out of the Modesto City-County Airport, where he was returning before he crashed.
“As an aviation community, it’s pretty tight-knit so everyone knew him one way or another,” said family friend and fellow pilot Cameron Glynn. “He was an amazing family man, amazing husband, amazing dad especially on Father’s Day it’s sad.”
According to eyewitness reports, Johnson’s plane was doing a flyby and wing dip for friends watching from a boat below. He made the aerial move and struck the power lines. The impact flipped the plane and it plummeted nose-first into the lake in the Poker Flats neighborhood.
“He’s usually a very good pilot. He’s been a pilot for many years, as far as I’ve known him, my family has known him, if it could happen to him it could happen to anyone,” said Glynn.
Glynn added that although the power lines weren’t marked, the area over the lake is considered open air space and pilots fly at their own risk.
“Running into any objects is a critical error and something that all pilots should be aware of,” Glynn said.
The recovery of the plane and body will require a crane and a barge. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s department will start that work early this week but have no timeline on how long it will take.
Nelson Mendonca, who lives nearby, says he will be watching closely from the dock of his summer home.
“Look that’s right in front of my house,” he said. “I know exactly how deep it is there, I can’t believe it took ’em that long to find the plane.”
Johnson was planning to fly in the annual Fathers Day Fly-In over the weekend, which is held at the Columbia Airport in Tuolumne County.