JACKSON — Search crews have found the wreckage of a small plane flown by Manteca Waterslides founder Robert “Budge” Brown” that disappeared on a flight from Nevada to Tracy.
Amador County authorities say ground crews found the single-engine Lancair aircraft flown by Robert Brown in a remote area of the Sierra northwest of Salt Springs Reservoir around 3:45 p.m. Friday in rugged snow covered wilderness of the El Dorado National Forest north of Highway 4
Sheriff Martin Ryan said wreckage from the plane was strewn over an area covering about 300 yards. Personal effects belonging to the 78-year-old Brown, including his passport, were found in the wreckage.
Crews started looking for the plane after it dropped from 15,000 to 12,000 feet rapidly and then fell off radar at 11,000 feet in an area of Amador County east of Placerville.
Brown was headed from Minden in Nevada to Tracy. He was then planning to fly to Baja, Mexico.
The wreckage is strewn over about 300 yards, deputies said. Its tail number and serial number were located in the wreckage. Some of Brown’s belongings, including his passport, were also found in the wreckage.
Amador County deputy sheriff coroners recovered a body at the scene and will work to make a positive identification and cause of death on Monday.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration has been notified and will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Sheriff’s office officials said the single-engine plane flown by the 78-year-old Brown crashed in a high-speed impact.
Brown’s family members, who live in Tracy, reported him overdue to arrive there at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Brown is the owner of Cleavage Creek Winery in Napa that he founded after retiring from 31 years of operating the Manteca Waterslides. He was a farmer for 60 years with most of that time being in the Manteca area.
Brown earned recognition for his generosity because he donated a portion of his winery profits to breast cancer-related causes. He lost his beloved wife Arlene to breast cancer in 2005.
During the 31 seasons Manteca Waterslides was open, Brown employed between 175 and 600 Manteca youth giving them summer jobs. It was widely recognized as the first waterslide amusement park of its kind in California. It was demolished to make way for the gated lakefront Oakwood Shores neighborhood.