A plane heading from Lincoln Regional Airport to Oakland International Airport has crashed near Castro Valley, killing the pilot, who was the sole occupant on board.
The FAA said air traffic controllers lost radio communication and radar contact with that plane about 11 a.m. Tuesday. That kicked off a massive search for the aircraft in the rain and fog covered hills near Castro Valley, one where crews couldn't use manned aircraft due to the rain.
"There was a lot of area to cover by foot and by vehicle without anything being available by air," said Aisha Knowles, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Fire Department.
But crews did use a drone at one point to pinpoint the crash site as well as pinged the pilot's cell phone, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
"It's a fairly large area of wreckage, so looks like the plane may have clipped some treetops before crashing into the ground," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
Even after the plane wreckage was located off Palomares Road, the recovery was stalled by steep terrain, made worse by the weather.
"Probably had three inches of rain up here in the last 24 hours, so it's very muddy, slippery, difficult to get to," Nelson said.
Family of the plane's owner, John Sacco of Rocklin, has identified him as the pilot. Sacco owns an environmental consulting firm called Earthshine Consulting Inc., and his family told FOX40 he often flies to the Bay Area for business, which was the purpose of the flight he took Tuesday morning.
His daughter described Sacco as a very experienced pilot, adding that he is instrument rated and trained by the best.
But Christopher Braun, the owner of the NorCal Flight Center at the Lincoln Regional Airport, said flying conditions heading west Tuesday were challenging because of the weather.
"I'm always concerned when pilots are taking off in these conditions and that somebody is going to, there's a term called scud running, and hopefully we weren't trying to get under the weather in a low cloud deck, something like that," Braun said.
Nelson said Sacco was the only person on board at the time of the crash, and that a recovery will be postponed until Wednesday due to the weather. The FAA said it will now investigate what caused the plane to go down.
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Photo: view of the steep terrain and plane wreckage located by Alameda County firefighters, Alameda County Sheriffs deputies and East Bay Regional Park District personnel off of Palomares Road in #CastroValley on Tuesday, December 22, 2015. #ALCOFire #ALCOFirefighters #AlamedaCounty
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