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Santa Barbara woman missing after small plane disappears along Northern California coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Officials are searching for two missing persons on an overdue plane flying along the Northern California Coastline on Monday.

The two missing were identified as Kayla Rodriguez, 27, of San Francisco and Justin Winfrey, 43.

Rodriguez is a native Santa Barbara resident.

She was born and raised in the Santa Barbara community. Both her parents live in the area.

Rodriguez attended Dos Pueblos High school and played varsity water polo during her time there.

She graduated from Dos Pueblos High School in 2010.

They were last seen fueling the plane's tank at Gnoss Field Airport in Novato at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Winfrey was the pilot and Rodriguez was the passenger.

The California Wing of Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force auxiliary continued their search for the single engine aircraft.

The search was activated at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday to search for a red and white Piper Arrow, which failed to arrive as expected Friday after leaving Gnoss Field in Novato the night before.

Winfrey and Rodriguez were traveling north along the Pacific Coast on a vacation trip.

The pair had been posting Instagram photos of their flight, images included pictures of the Kincade Fire and the Northern California coast.

The plane disappeared from the radar Thursday evening about halfway between Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove.

Search efforts began Saturday with the U.S. Coast Guard plane from the south and a Coast Guard helicopter from the north searched offshore and along the coast.

Two California Wing aircrews in Civil Air Patrol planes helped with the search.

None of the aircrews detected any debris or anything else that might indicate the Piper plane's location.

The California Wing also conducted ramp checks at airports along the flight route.

The wing's planned search efforts for Sunday were postponed because of high winds, severe turbulence and decreased visibility caused by the Kincade Fire.

Aircrews remained on alert but the conditions did not improve before nightfall.

Three California Wing aircrews continued conducting search operations in Civil Air Patrol planes on Monday due to better conditions.

A member of Civil Air Patrol's Chaplain Corps is in contact with the Winfrey and Rodriguez's family and friends to offer support and provide updates on the mission status.

Their families gave the following statement below:

“Thank you to the Civil Air Patrol, Airforce, Coast Guard and SF police department for your continued efforts to find Kayla and Justin and bring them home safely. Please continue to keep Kayla and Justin in your thoughts and prayers.”

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Julia Nguyen


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