Authorities are searching for a private plane from Vancouver, Washington, that crashed into the Columbia River off Pier 39 in Astoria late Wednesday afternoon.
A 69-year-old Clark County man, John McKibbin — a former Clark County commissioner and an amateur pilot — is believed to have been on board with a woman. They had planned to scatter the ashes of the woman’s husband over the river, The Columbian reported.
McKibbin was last seen about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, when he and the woman took off from Pearson Field in Vancouver, headed for the mouth of the Columbia River, The Columbian reported.
“A very proficient pilot, but it looks like we might have had an unfortunate circumstance,” Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin said.
Bergin confirmed that the search was for a man and a woman, but did not release their identities.
Eyewitnesses reported that the plane — a 1941 North American military trainer with a polished aluminum body, a red nose and tail, and a 40-foot wingspan — went into the river at roughly 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard performed a first-light search Thursday morning, and the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to send a dive team into the water at noon.
The agencies scanned the area for approximately three hours on Wednesday. Though rescue teams did not find the aircraft, “we did find lots of oil dots yesterday coming up from the surface,” Bergin said.