'There she goes': Pilot films own plane sinking in the ocean

Owen Leipelt
Two people were rescued after their plane into crashed Half Moon Bay in California Aug. 20 2019

The pilot of a small plane that went down in the waters off Northern California is a self-professed thrill-seeker whose stunts have sometimes gotten him in trouble with authorities.

A radio message from a friend and fellow pilot shocked Owen Leipelt as the two flew along the California coast near Half Moon Bay to shoot some video.

The plane sank within a minute. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said investigators had not yet spoken to Lesh.

In the clip, Lesh speculates about its fuel.

Lesh said he recently bought the plane for more than $200,000 and spent about $40,000 for upgrades, taking out a loan to pay for the aircraft.

Addressing online speculation that he had staged the water landing, Lesh said anyone who believed he would spend so much money on a plane only to sink it must have "lost their mind".

He also said he had airplane insurance.

"In a July 4 Facebook post, the outdoor clothing company David Lesh founded, Virtika, posted three pictures of Lesh riding a snowmobile with the caption "@davidlesh sledding today on Independence Pass on Independence Day". According to court records, officers were investigating a group of 25 grocery carts that had been set on fire and found video of Lesh using a torch to light them. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor mischief. Joshua Murphy, the Air Station San Francisco Dolphin pilot, in the statement.


David Lesh was conducting a photoshoot late Tuesday afternoon of his new Beechcraft Bonanza, a plane that he had purchased only a few weeks ago, when he lost power and couldn't restart the engine due to "unknown circumstances".

"I just did everything I could to get the motor going again", he said.

"At one point I lost them", Leipelt said in that same ABC7 article.

"This moose just happened to attack me, and I chased it off", Lesh told the FOX31 Problem Solvers.

It skipped along the water a few times, but he said there was no impact and both he and his friend were fine. A helicopter hoisted the two men out of the chilly water that was teeming with jellyfish.

They called air traffic control, which sent the information to Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Command Center. The video then cuts to a Coast Guard helicopter coming to their rescue and winching them up to safety. Video shows Lesh and Kayla standing on the wing of the plane before it sunk completely, and then they treaded water until help arrived.

On Wednesday, Lesh blamed bad gasoline for the malfunction, saying he had siphoned particulate matter out of the gas but thinks he didn't get all of it.

Lesh said he plans to leave Friday on a cross-country flight to deliver his other plane to a buyer on the East Coast.

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