WAILUKU - The small plane that went missing off of Maui's north coast Saturday night belonged to Jose Krall, the pastry chef and owner of Maui Bake Shop & Deli in Wailuku, according to his wife, Claire Fujii-Krall.
The U.S. Coast Guard was still searching for the aircraft - a four-seater Cessna 172 - late Sunday afternoon.
A debris field - including a plane wheel, landing gear, a life jacket and an aircraft antenna - was located in waters approximately two miles north of Maui, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Eric Chandler, but officials had not been able to confirm if it was the missing Cessna.
Maui Bake Shop & Deli owner Jose Krall is pictured in the eatery’s kitchen in 2010. Krall was piloting a Cessna 172 when it disappeared from radar Saturday night north of Kahului Airport.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"There's no body, and they found a little debris, but that was his plane," Fujii-Krall told The Maui News. "He was talking to the (Honolulu Airport) tower when he went off the radar and they lost sight of him."
Krall's plane had departed from Kahului Airport en route to Molokai on Saturday night and was approximately 2 miles north of Kahului at 7 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Fujii-Krall said that her husband loved to fly as a hobby and would often make weekend trips to Molokai or Lanai to visit friends.
"He loved flying. I'm glad he died doing what he loved," she said. "Every weekend, he enjoyed flying as his recreation to find peace."
She said she was told that her husband tried to turn around and return to Maui on Saturday night because of hazy conditions.
"The conditions were really bad. The haze was too dense," she said. "He wanted to turn around. . . . The circumstances with the weather and vog - he didn't have any visibility. He did try to turn back."
The Coast Guard has said that the pilot likely crash-landed in the ocean.
The National Weather Service described weather conditions at the Kahului Airport just before 7 p.m. Saturday as partly cloudy with winds at 7 miles per hour and scattered sky cover. Skies over Molokai Airport were described as scattered and broken around the same time.
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Barbers Point on Oahu and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi, homeported in Honolulu, continued search efforts late Sunday afternoon. Boat crews from the Coast Guard's Maui station were also searching the area.
An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew searched waters Saturday night using an infrared sensor. Meanwhile, Maui fire rescue crews conducted a search of the coastline from Kuau to Pauwela but found nothing significant.
The public is asked to report sightings of any aircraft debris to the Maui Police Department.
Fujii-Krall said that friends were helping to clear out perishable food items from the bake shop Sunday afternoon. She said the bakery will close down.
She said her husband was 51.
"He enjoyed being creative, and that's why we cannot continue the business because he was so specialized," she said, adding that Dec. 10 would have marked 23 years in business. The couple have been married as long as the business has been open. "He was the breadwinner. It can't run without him."
The couple own the building at the corner of Vineyard and North Church streets, home to the bakery popular for its strawberry shortcake, macaroons and other bistro specialties.
"It was not only the pastries, but we did beef Wellington and other specialty items for lunch and parties. He enjoyed the challenge of having something beautifully prepared that tastes great," Fujii-Krall said.
Krall was born in Nimes, France, south of Paris. He was trained as both a baker and a pastry chef and has worked from Switzerland to Belgium, according to a 2010 Maui News profile of the Maui Bake Shop. He arrived in the U.S. at age 19 and has been in the kitchens of some of the top names in pastry.
Fujii-Krall stressed her appreciation for the search efforts.
"The Coast Guard and fire, police, everyone who aided in the search, I express my appreciation," she said.
She also thanked her customers.
"We appreciate all our customers who kept us in business all these years," she said. "Mahalo for that, and farewell."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.