updated 3/7/2009 5:57:45 PM ET 2009-03-07T22:57:45

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Saturday for a 71-year-old pilot whose small rented plane crashed off the San Diego County coast.

The single-engine Cessna 172 was being flown by Stone Froberg, of San Diego, who was believed to be the only occupant of the plane.

Three Coast Guard vessels spent the morning searching an area about 25 miles off the coast and about halfway between Oceanside and San Clemente Island, Petty Officer 1st Class Allyson Conroy said. A helicopter also was used in the search.

Froberg checked out the red-and-white plane from the Golden Wings Flying Club at Montgomery Field in San Diego, and the rented aircraft was registered to Blossom Valley Aviation LLC, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Although he did not file a formal flight plan, Froberg indicated he was going to make a round trip to French Valley, about 60 miles north, and return around 5 p.m. Friday.

A civilian vessel reported seeing a plane hit the water Friday afternoon and searchers later found aluminum debris and an oil slick.

The FAA did not receive any mayday calls from pilots in the San Diego area, Gregor said.

Oceanside is about 35 miles north of San Diego.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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