The plane was headed from Palm Springs to Gillespie Field.
A sheriff's search and rescue team, along with deputies from Julian and a U.S. Border Patrol team, made the discovery around 12:45 a.m. on the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, roughly four miles northeast of Julian, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Dave Schaller.
The single-engine Piper Mooney fixed-wing aircraft was reported missing by Gillespie Field officials around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. They told deputies that contact with the plane was lost somewhere over the Julian area, Schaller said.
The sheriff's department had originally wanted to use helicopters in the search but changed plans because of the sleet, snow and high winds, according to sheriff's Sgt. Don Parker. A ground search was conducted instead, with rescuers utilizing a "ping" from the pilot's cell phone number that allowed them to locate the wreckage, Parker said.