Champion 7KCAB aircraft
A Champion 7KCAB aircraft similar to the one that went down. Photo by Craig Kinzer via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities have released the identities of the two people killed last week when a small plane crashed in rough terrain in the far eastern reaches of San Diego County.

David Alan Derby, a 77-year-old commercial pilot from Santee, and Ryan Michael Willis, a 36-year-old San Diego man, were found early Thursday morning after their plane did not return on schedule, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The two had taken off from Gillespie Field on Wednesday evening in a Champion 7KCAB aircraft.

A search ensued after the plane failed to report back, and investigators were able to find a possible crash site after observing a steep descent on radar, the Medical Examiner’s Office said.

A San Diego County Sheriff’s Department helicopter was used to locate the plane near Descanso, about 17 miles northeast of Gillespie Field, the El Cajon airport. Both Derby and Willis were determined to have died in the crash.

Derby has held his pilot’s license since 2003, according to FAA records. The plane was registered to Derby’s company, Three Point Partners Inc.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.