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Local News

Pilot Killed in Plane Crash Near Cuyama

Single-engine aircraft, reportedly registered to famed film composer James Horner, went down west of Highway 33

Only relatively small pieces remained of a single-engine plane that crashed Monday in a remote area new Cuyama.
Only relatively small pieces remained of a single-engine plane that crashed Monday in a remote area new Cuyama. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The pilot of a single-engine plane belonging to famed film composer James Horner was killed Monday when he crashed near Santa Barbara County’s remote northeast corner, sparking a small vegetation fire.

The incident was reported at about 9:25 a.m. in Quatal Canyon, two miles west of Highway 33 and east of New Cuyama, according to Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

According to emergency radio traffic, a witness reported hearing a strange noise coming from the plane, followed by seeing a large cloud of dust in the canyon.

The wreckage was scattered over about an acre, according to Capt. Mike Lindbery of the Ventura County Fire Department.

The S312 Tucano MK1, a two-seat military trainer, "crashed under unknown circumstances," according to Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration's Pacific Division.

The pilot was the only one aboard at the time of the crash, Gregor said.

Late Monday night, Gregor released the tail number of the aircraft — N206PZ — which is registered to a a Nevada company, Tucano Flyer LLC, with offices in Los Angeles that is partially owned by Horner.

Gregor said he could not provide the name of the pilot who died.

Sources told Noozhawk that the pilot may have been Horner, but that could not be confirmed.

However, Horner's assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, wrote in a Facebook post that he had died:

"A great tragedy has struck my family today, and I will not be around for a while..." Patrycja wrote. "We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved."

A firefighter looks for hot spots after a small plane crashed near Cuyama, killing at least one person. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Horner, 61, is an Academy Award-winning composer, whose work included scores for “Titanic” and “Avatar.”

Horner, who lives in the Los Angeles area, was known to pilot vintage World War II aircraft, and to fly occasionally with an aerobatic group of P-51 pilots known as The Flying Horseman.

Among Horner’s best known works is the song “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.” He won Academy Awards for both the song and the movie score.

A Calstar medical helicopter initially was dispatched to the crash scene, but later was canceled.

Responding firefighters reported seeing light smoke in the area, and a full vegetation-fire response was initiated.

The fire was contained within about an hour, and limited to an acre, Lindbery said.

Because of the incident’s remote location, emergency personnel had extended response times.

Zaniboni indicated the crash site was in Ventura County and within Los Padres National Forest.

Three helicopters — two from Santa Barbara County and one from Ventura County — were dispatched to the scene.

Personnel on scene were waiting for the arrival of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board Monday afternoon, Lindbery said.

The NTSB and the FAA will investigate the accident, Gregor said.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Only relatively small pieces remained of a single-engine plane that crashed Monday in a remote area near Cuyama. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

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