The National Transportation Safety Board released its aviation accident preliminary report Tuesday on the Sept. 27 fatal crash that occurred off the coast of Campus Point in Isla Vista.
The pilot, later identified as 61-year-old Deborah Nicholson, from the Lake Tahoe area, was the sole occupant and was fatally injured in the crash. The flight departed the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport just after 7 a.m. Sept. 27 for a cross-country flight to the Truckee-Tahoe Airport in Truckee, according to the report.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Cessna T182T airplane departed the runway and established radio contact with Los Angeles Center departure control and turned a heading of 255 degrees with a climb to 8,000 feet above ground level.
The airplane then turned to the north, followed by a turn to the east and a “rapid descent,” according to the report.
“Radio and radar contact were lost, and an alert notification was issued by the FAA. Wreckage and an oil slick were located approximately 2 miles from SBA in the Pacific Ocean by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department. There were no mayday calls received by ATC from the pilot,” read the report.
The reported weather at the time of the crash was overcast skies at 900 feet and a visibility of seven miles, authorities said.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department dive units to assist in the search for the pilot and airplane.
The pilot and airplane were located Oct. 1 and the estimated depth of the wreckage was 200 feet, authorities said.
The report did not disclose the cause of the crash. The Sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau investigation is expected to be finalized in the next several weeks.
In the preliminary report, the NTSB noted that information is subject to change and any errors would be corrected when a final report is completed, which is typically released 12 to 18 months after the incident.