Missing California pilot found dead at crash site west of Dunsmuir

Search & rescue teams and helicopters could be seen on the south side of Mt. Bradley, toward Castle Crags.

Posted: Oct 22, 2021 3:46 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2021 5:34 PM

DUNSMUIR, Calif. — Siskiyou County search and rescue teams found the crash site on Friday of William Bushling, a pilot who went missing Wednesday after taking off from the airstrip in Ashland as he headed home to Orland, California.

Authorities confirmed Friday afternoon that Bushling had been found dead at the crash site.


Photo courtesy of Harry Bushling

"The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office regretfully reports the positive identification of the decease person at the plane crash site on Bradley Peak," the agency said in a Facebook post. "Mr William Bushling was positively identified by our investigators. His family has been notified. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Debris from Bushling's plane was found on the south side of Mt. Bradley west of Dunsmuir, toward Castle Crags. Search teams were able to confirm the tail number of Bushling's distinctive black Cessna.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said Friday morning that it received a tip indicating that Bushling's plane may have been found.

According to the agency, a man reported around 10 a.m. that he saw a black Cessna matching the description of Bushling's plane. Siskiyou County search and rescue teams then were sent out to the area where the plane was reportedly seen.

"We ask that our readers be respectful regarding information and not putting out details that have not been confirmed by law enforcement. We want to be respectful to the family of William, not perpetuate speculation," the Sheriff's Office said at the time.

Bushling reportedly took off from the airstrip in Ashland on Wednesday morning, heading for his hometown of Orland, California. He was flying a black Cessna with the tail number N5268Q.

Friends of Bushling's became concerned when the plane was overdue for arrival in Orland. Officials in Trinity County reported receiving a request for an emergency landing, but the plane never arrived.

According to the Trinity County Sheriff's Office, the last known location of Bushling's phone via cell tower triangulation or "ping" was an area northeast of Dunsmuir and south of where Highway 89 joins I-5. The ping was recorded around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night.

The plane crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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