SANTA BARBARA, Calif., June 22 (UPI) -- Award-winning American composer James Horner died Monday after his small plane crashed near Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 61.
Horner, one of Hollywood's most celebrated composers, scored more than 100 films in his career, including Titanic, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, The Perfect Storm, Jumanji, Courage Under Fire, Casper, The Land Before Time and Apollo 13.
Horner's assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, was the first to confirm his death.
"We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent," Patrycja wrote in a Facebook post. "He died doing what he loved."
CBS Los Angeles reported that Horner was flying a single-engine Tucano MK-1, which crashed in a remote area near Ventucopa, about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara. The crash was reported to authorities around 9:30 a.m.
Horner, whose career in Hollywood spanned decades, was born the son of a set designer in Los Angeles in 1953. He started playing piano at age 5 and studied music at the University of Southern California and UCLA.
Horner, whose first major film score was 1979's Lady in Red, went on to compose music for numerous feature films and garnered his first Oscar nomination in 1987 for Aliens. That same year, he received a nod for co-writing "Somewhere Out There," from An American Tail.
He won two Oscar Awards for his work on 1997's Titanic, including Best Original Dramatic Score. He shared Best Original Song with lyricist Will Jennings for Celine Dion's blockbuster single "My Heart Will Go On."
Horner also earned Oscar nominations for Field of Dreams (1989), Apollo 13 (1995), Braveheart (1995), A Beautiful Mind (2001), House of Sand and Fog (2003) and Avatar (2009).
As soon as news of Horner's death was confirmed, many of his colleagues took to social media to pay tribute.
"Brilliant composer James Horner, friend and collaborator on seven movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones," tweeted director Ron Howard, who worked with Horner on films such as Apollo 13, Cocoon and A Beautiful Mind.
"This is such heart-wrenching news," wrote Furious 7 director James Wan. "James Horner's music guided me thru my teenage years. My dreams and daydreams were set to his scores."