The U.S. Coast Guard has called off its search for a missing pilot whose small plane crashed in the ocean off San Diego County Friday afternoon. The 71-year-old San Diego man was believed to have been the only person on board.
Rescue crews frantically combed the waters Saturday, looking for Stone Froberg, 71. The engineer was not found.
The plane took off from Montgomery Field at 11:48 a.m. and was heading to French Valley when it crashed, Coast Guard officials said.
A civilian vessel reported seeing the Cessna 172 single-engine plane hit the water on Friday afternoon about 25 miles off the coast -- halfway between Oceanside and San Clemente Island.
“The Good Samaritan called in the crash and they immediately diverted to the site where they found debris,” U.S. Coast Guard Lt Commander Joshua Nelson said.
Lt Nelson said 700 square miles was searched.
“He is a relatively new pilot but we don’t know how long he’s been certified for. We also don’t know what level of certification he had, we just know he was a recently certified pilot,” Lt Nelson said.
A neighbor in the condominium complex where he lived for 29 years said she always picked up his newspaper when he was out of town. Saturday, it was still by his door.
“Oh my God that’s a big surprise,” neighbor and friend Maria Cetale said. “He was so happy when he got his license.”
“I’m shocked he’s a wonderful person,” said neighbor Herbert Himmell.
Pam West, who has known him for 9 years, said he helped design the lighting for the complex, as he was an electrical engineer at ILA Zammit. She said he was active and adventuresome.
“One of your regular guys, genius, brilliant and kind… I’m surprised he didn’t have a license for everything, he can do anything,” West said. “He was in a ski accident a number of years ago, but he put his body back together and went back to skiing. He had the neatest cars, just a nice friendly guy, your perfect neighbor.”
Aviation officials said the plane was rented from the Golden Wings Flying Club at Montgomery Field.