Lochie Ferrier, a NSW man living in the US, has died alongside his fiancee in a light plane crash in California.
Mr Ferrier was in the pilot seat of his small plane when it is believed to have plummeted into coastal rocks at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco on Sunday night, according to local news reports.
An engineer and prolific pilot, Mr Ferrier had proposed to his partner Cassidy Petit just four months before the crash.
Ms Petit was one of three passengers on the Cozy MK IV plane and also died when it went down.
Authorities rushed to Half Moon Bay after witnesses reported the plane had begun flying erratically.
The Coast Guard launched drones as well as a search diver, discovering the small plane in the water without passengers an hour and a half after it went down.
“There is a plane in the water, it was made known to me that the plane was actually upside-down in the water,” sergeant Philip Hallworth from San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
“What was even more alarming for the caller was that they heard the engine splutter, and they kept eyes on the plane until they lost sight of it just over the horizon,” Hallworth said.
Half Moon Bay residents who spotted the plane in trouble said that it was far from the flight path of the nearby airport.
“It was out of the path of the flight, by the time I heard it, it had to have been, there’s no way because planes don’t fly over my house and that plane was right by there so I’m pretty sure he was looking for help quick, or she,” local Diana Fernandez told US broadcaster ABC.
The body of a woman, not believed to be Ms Petit, has been recovered from the water.
Mr Ferrier posted in July last year about purchasing the Cozy MK IV plane with friends, captioning the Instagram post “the gang gets a plane”.
“Looking forward to many more adventures,” he also wrote.
Born in Armidale, Mr Ferrier had built a life for himself in the US, graduating from MIT University in Massachusetts in 2019 with a degree in aerospace engineering.
He and Ms Petit had moved to California less than a year ago to start a new life in the San Francisco Bay area.
The couple often shared images of their flying adventures, including Mr Ferrier’s love of experimental flight tests.
He often built planes and had previously worked as a test pilot.
Vermont man Tim Pickles who flew with Mr Ferrier years ago described him as a “good guy” who loved flying.
“I didn’t know him well, but he was a good guy and, in my book, anyone who lets you pull 6 g’s in an aircraft with them is a good sort to be around,” he wrote on social media.
US authorities are currently investigating the crash.