We now know the names of two victims of the Sunday night’s tragic plane crash in Half Moon Bay, including the pilot, and the make of the homebuilt aircraft. There is also some conflicting information on whether there may have been others onboard.
Details were scarce Monday morning when we learned there had been a small aircraft that crashed in Half Moon Bay at around 7 p.m. Sunday night. And by Monday morning, the Coast Guard declared search operations suspended, as conditions were too dangerous to proceed. But we did learn by Monday afternoon that a woman’s body was found near the site of the crash.
On Tuesday afternoon, the San Mateo Coroner’s Office confirmed that victim was 27-year-old San Francisco woman Emma Willmer-Shiles, according to KRON4.
UPDATE: Pilot in small plane crash off Half Moon Bay identified as Lochie Ferrier, sources tell NBC Bay Area. Investigators believe four people were onboard the plane. https://t.co/aFd8ysoWGu— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) January 16, 2024
Additionally, NBC Bay Area reported Tuesday afternoon that the pilot has been identified as Lochie Ferrier. KTVU has the same information, saying that Ferrier lived in Oakland, was well-known in the "experimental aircraft" community, and worked at an aerospace firm called Beta Technologies. That firm was featured in a recent New York Times profile on small electric aircraft.
But there are also inconsistencies and questions in these new reports. NBC Bay Area adds that their “Sources also confirm to NBC Bay Area [that] Cassidy Petit was another passenger onboard the plane.” (And indeed, an Instagram account belonging to a Bay Area “Pilot & engineer” named Lochie Ferrier shows him apparently being engaged to a Cassidy Petit on October 1.)
Though there's an issue with this detail: NBC Bay Area also adds that “Investigators believe four people were onboard the plane.” But that contradicts KRON4’s reporting — which they say is information from the Federal Aviation Administration — that “There were a total of two people on board the plane when it crashed.” We hope to have more information in the days to come, as there are likely some families on edge here.
We do now know what the aircraft was. KRON4 says it was a “homebuilt model Cozy Mark IV,” information confirmed by several other outlets. That plane (seen above and described here) is not a product of the pilot’s aforementioned company Beta Technologies, though obviously is a small craft built for very small passenger loads.
And one other mystery was solved Tuesday. On Monday, we did not know from where the flight originated, just that reports indicate it was the East Bay. But on Tuesday, KRON4 reported that “The plane initially took off from Hayward Executive Airport on Sunday before landing at Half Moon Bay Airport a short while later.” So the plane did land at Half Moon Bay, but took off again before crashing, according to KRON4’s reporting of National Transportation Safety Board information.
Image: Arpingstone via Wikimedia Commons