After successfully completing an upward spin in his aircraft, Scholl attempted an inverted flat spin. While descending rapidly in the spin, and at an altitude of 3,000 feet, he uttered, "I've got a problem."
Shortly later,, at an altitude of 1,500 feet, he spoke his last known words... "I've really got a problem."
An spotter plane carrying another stunt pilot and Scholl's mechanic, Kevin Kammer, arrived at the scene 45 seconds after the crash and reported seeing no signs of life - albeit they did not see the actual impact.
Rescue aircraft and vessels recovered only some floating debris and spotted an small oil slick. It was speculated that the aircraft sank, with Scholl trapped inside, to a depth of over 900 feet about five miles off Encinitas.
The Coast Guard used a helicopter and 82-foot cutter to search the 25-square-mile area near the crash but called off the search the following morning.
The exact cause of the fatal crash remains unknown, as neither the plane, nor Scholl's body, was ever recovered.
It is generally thought that camera equipment affixed to the plane altered its weight and balance envelope, making recovery from the flat spin impossible. None of Scholl's spotter planes witnessed the impact.
The movie Top Gun was dedicated to the memory of Art Scholl.