Thomas Christopher Bruff, 57, died at the scene of Sunday's crash, the Los Angeles County coroner's office reported.
The single engine Cessna 182 went off radar about 8:30 a.m. while flying from San Diego’s Montgomery Field to Santa Monica Airport. Rescue crews found the wreckage late Sunday afternoon. Dense fog made it impossible for rescue helicopters’ to reach the site.
The white aircraft with blue stripes was located about 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the 4,000-foot level about four miles north of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said Sgt. M. Zager of the Sheriff's Air Operations Bureau.
Authorities had received a report about 8:20 a.m. Sunday that the plane, which crashed into a rugged cliffside of Brown Mountain, was missing, Capt. Bill Song of the sheriff's Crescenta Valley station said. Radar data from Flightaware.com showed that the plane departed at 7:37 a.m. Sunday from Montgomery Field in San Diego.
“Right now we are just trying to get some answers,” said Shane Terpstra, who is a safety officer and flight instructor At Plus One Flyers - a flying club where the still unidentified pilot was a member and rented the plane. “How did this happen? How did a perfectly good airplane crash? From what we understand, he was a perfectly good pilot.”
Everyone at the flight school knows the deceased pilot, Terpstra said. He was instrument trained and had filed a flight plan, she said.
“Effectively, what that means is that the intended path would have taken him into some clouds,” Terpstra said.
The FAA and NTSB will lead the crash investigation. It could be months before they release their findings.