The Cessna 172 crashed into an irrigation canal just northwest of the Fresno city limits on Sunday afternoon.
The pilot was killed on impact. FAA Investigators determined the plane had been stolen from Buchanan Airfield in Concord.
The plane's owner, Felix Boston, told Action News he had last seen the plane on Friday. He said went to the airport again on Saturday to take a flight and the plane was gone. He said he didn't know what happened to his airplane until he got a call from the FAA Sunday.
Boston examined the wreckage with FAA investigators on Monday. An early complication in the investigation came when it was discovered the identification numbers on the tail of the airplane had been altered.
Boston told Action News he was told the man who piloted the plane had prison tattoos on his body and was on parole. The Fresno County Coroner's office will not release the pilot's name until they can notify his relatives. While investigators were inspecting the wreckage they heard a cell phone ringing somewhere in the plane, but the plane was so mangled they were unable to find it.
Action News has learned the pilot of the stolen plane was 52 years old.
According to Boston, the wreckage was full of "Cheez-Whiz" and other convenience foods including energy drinks. He told us there was a receipt in the plane from a Wal-Mart store in Stockton. He speculated the pilot stopped in Stockton after stealing the plane. The FAA is unable to verify any stopover at this point.
The crash became a major disruption for football fans on Super Bowl Sunday. Just before crashing the plane flew into power lines, knocking out electricity to more than one hundred PG&E customers.
Tom Mecido lives about two miles from the crash site. He told Action News his family had just sat down to watch the football game when :"Bam the power goes off again and stays off, everybody was getting a little bit edgy." Mecido said the power was off for about ten minutes, but PG&E says some customers were without power for several hours.
Felix Boston is an insurance agent from Walnut Creek. He frequently flew friends and associates around the Bay Area, sightseeing over Golden Gate Bridge. He said the plane was his "baby": "It's just so sad to see somebody steal it and then crash it like this. It's a shame that he lost his life but he lost my airplane."
An FAA investigation into the cause of the crash is likely to take several weeks. Boston said there was still fuel in the tanks.