The pilot of a single engine plane spotting fish for a commercial fishing boat is missing and presumed dead after his craft plunged into the ocean about 20 miles west of Mission Beach Wednesday afternoon, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The pilot, whose name was withheld until relatives could be notified, was the only person aboard the plane. A two-hour search by the Coast Guard turned up no sign of the aircraft, said Larry Cheek, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.
"Fishermen from the boat heard the impact of the plane as it was hitting the water," Cheek said. "Then they saw the tail end of it submerging and, apparently, it just sank to the bottom," he said.
"The pilot didn't notify the fishing boat that he was in any type of danger in advance," Cheek said.
Cause of the accident is under investigation, but the Coast Guard has discontinued its search for the airplane, Cheek said.
At the time of the crash, the pilot was dropping dye on the water to show the location of a school of fish in the area.