10:25 PM EDT, May 20, 2011
The plane of a missing winery owner has been found in Amador County near Salt Spring Reservoir.
Search and rescue aircraft flew over areas in Amador and Calaveras counties Friday looking for Robert H. “Budge” Brown and his plane.
Friday afternoon, Brown’s son confirmed to FOX40 that his father’s plane was found in Amador County. The son said he was numb from the news, and his heart sank as he watched news coverage Friday night. A body was found in the wreckage.
According to Amador County Sheriffs, around 3:45 Friday afternoon, members of the search team found the wreckage of Brown’s Lancair plane south of Bear River Reservoir in very rugged, snow covered terrain in the El Dorado National Forest.
The plane crashed outside the initial search area that was covered by ground crews. The wreckage covers about a 300-yard area, but officials were able to find the tail and serial number and did confirm the plane belongs to Brown. They also found personal items in the debris, including Brown’s passport.
The coroner was called to the crash site, and did recover a body. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Both the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will conduct an investigation into the crash.
Brown took off from Minden, Nevada Wednesday afternoon heading for Tracy, California. However, he never arrived.
His plane was last tracked on radar east of Sacramento, it appears he flew over the Sierra near Tahoe then tried to avoid storms. Brown had flown the route from Minden to Tracy a couple hundred times according to his family.
Brown is the founder and owner of Cleavage Creek Winery, based in Pope Valley, in Napa County. He is also behind the Manteca Waterslides, which operated for about three decades before closing in 2004. It was one of the first waterslide parks in the country.