Plane that crashed off coast of Half Moon Bay was owned by Sergey Brin’s investment firm
The fuel-starved plane that plunged into the Pacific Ocean while attempting to reach Half Moon Bay on Saturday was owned by the financial investment firm of billionaire Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
A statement by Bayshore Global Management sent to The Times late Monday confirmed ownership of the plane, which had been blocked from Federal Aviation Administration-fed tracking services and was registered to a trust run by a bank in Utah.
The Coast Guard declined Monday to release the names of the two people who died on board.
“Sadly, we can confirm that a plane associated with our office, a De Havilland DHC6-400 Twin Otter seaplane, has experienced an accident at sea during a ferry flight,” a spokesperson for Brin’s Palo Alto investment house said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the families of the crew on board. We are providing the families with assistance and will continue to do so as long as needed. Similarly, we are working to ensure all available resources are ready to assist in recovery efforts once weather and seas provide safer conditions.”
Bayshore Global is a family office, handling some $100 billion in assets for Brin, and noted for its privacy.
In their last minutes alive, the two pilots aboard the Twin Otter turboprop were reassured by air traffic control: “Hang in there guys. We’ll come get you.”
A small private plane crashed in the Pacific about 40 miles west of Half Moon Bay following an emergency call for help, killing two people aboard.
The red and white Twin Otter hit the water 32 miles west of Half Moon Bay on Saturday and was not heard from again.
When a helicopter from nearby San Francisco reached the scene 15 minutes later, the plane was flipped, its cockpit submerged. A rescue swimmer who jumped into the water found the occupants still inside the plane, lifeless. By U.S. Coast Guard policy, without air tanks, the swimmer could not enter the submerged compartment.
The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter, a plane and two boats to the scene of Saturday afternoon’s crash, interviews and flight records show. But in the end, both the plane and its victims were left at sea. An unidentified insurance company is now in charge of determining next steps.
As of Monday, an emergency response company hired by the insurer had not apprised the Coast Guard of its plans to retrieve the victims’ bodies, said Petty Officer Matthew West.
That company, Fireside Partners, did not immediately return a call from a reporter.
West said the presumed identities of the plane’s occupants are known, but the Coast Guard is withholding those names at the request of family members. Bayshore Global has not publicly identified the pilots either.
A spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board said the salvage company attempted to find and recover the plane Sunday but had to turn back because of “high seas.” On Monday, she said, it postponed retrieval efforts until later in the week, citing the weather offshore. The area is under a gale warning until Wednesday.
The plane had left at 8:05 a.m. Saturday from a Sonoma County airstrip in Santa Rosa, one of the pilots cheerfully telling the control tower they were headed for Honolulu.
A trip that long would depend heavily on the small plane’s fuel “ferry” tanks, which FAA records show were installed to supply supplemental fuel to the main tank. Flight records reviewed by The Times show the plane since August made frequent long trips — to Panama, Atlanta, Miami, the Turks and Caicos — but often stopped along the way. A December trip from Sacramento to the British Virgin Islands, for instance included stops in El Paso and Miami and took three days.
“Clear to Honolulu,” the pilot said, repeating instructions for altitude and to switch to the Oakland central air traffic control tower once aloft.
Flight tracking records show the plane showed back up over the Pacific Ocean four hours later, returning east toward Santa Rosa. For the next hour, the Oakland central tower tried to hail the plane, even attempting to relay communications through nearby passing planes.
Then at 1:15 p.m., it turned east, on a direct path for a community airfield at nearby Half Moon Bay.
At some point, air traffic communications were established with the occupants of the Twin Otter. Air traffic recordings shared by liveatc.net capture a radio operator at 1:30 p.m. asking, “What’s the color of your craft, and what’s the color of your life raft?”
The reply is garbled, but a Coast Guard marine broadcast shortly after told seafarers to be on the watch for a yellow life raft.
At 1:44 p.m., a passing Southwest jet was told of an anticipated ocean landing, south of the Farallon Islands, and was asked to “see if they made it out ok.”
The commercial pilot later replied that low clouds prevented a view of the water.
At 1:47 p.m., the crew of the Twin Otter were asked to turn on emergency beacons aboard their plane. “Ok, we’ll try to do that,” a pilot answered.
At 1:52 p.m., a tower operator radioed the Twin Otter that the Coast Guard had a fix on its location and was sending help. “Do you have flares?”
“I don’t believe ... but there’s something inside the life raft here.”
“Just to give you an update, Coast Guard has your last known location here, and they’re sending out a helicopter soon. So again hang in there guys. We’ll come get you.”
“Copy that. I very much appreciate your help,” a pilot replied.
There were no further transmissions from the plane.
Flight tracking records, accessed through Flightrader24, show the Twin Otter stopped moving at 1:54 p.m. and its signal was lost two minutes later.
A Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter took off from the San Francisco International Airport at 2:05 p.m. and reached the scene at 2:15 p.m., the time a spokeswoman for the National Safety Transportation Board said the agency is using as the official time of crash.
The federal agency is investigating “reports that the pilots were unable to transfer fuel from the supplemental ferry tanks to the main tanks,” said spokeswoman Sarah Stulick. That report is not expected for several weeks.
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