Authorities in southeastern Tennessee said Friday that they were searching for a student pilot who was thrown from an aircraft while learning to fly with an instructor.
According to WRCBTV, Bradley County Fire and Rescue officials confirmed on Saturday, March 30 that they have found the body of the student pilot. NewsChanne19.com, in a 12:00 p.m.update, reported that police confirmed that the body found was that of the missing pilot.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the police in Collegedale and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office first said on Friday that they were searching for the man who was not identified by name.
WRCBTV reports that the man was taking lessons from an instructor in his zodiac 601 aircraft at about 2,500 feet when the plane took a sudden nose-dive.
EMA director, Troy Spence, said the pilot "had some kind of malfunction with the plane and had a rapid decent."
Collegedale Municipal Airport employee Lowell Sterchi, later explained that the canopy of the plane came off. Sterchi said that the student pilot's seat belt was not fastened when the canopy of the plane came off. He was thrown out from the plane over the East Brainerd and Apison areas of the county. He fell 2,500 feet from the plane, WRCBTV reports.
However, the instructor was able to take control of the plane. He landed it safely at the Collegedale Municipal Airport about eight miles from where authorities believed the accident occurred. Authorities said that the instructor did not suffer any serious injuries.
The Daily Mail reports Spence said: "The people inside the plane were not wearing seat belts. So when they lost control of the plane, in an attempt to regain control of the plane, the passenger was ejected."
The aircraft belonged to Clarence Andrews who also built the plane but died last December in a plane crash near the Collegedale airport. The student pilot purchased the plane form Andrews' family earlier this month, WRCBTV reports.
After an initial rescue effort, authorities said the search for the student pilot was a "recovery mission" as they did not expect that he survived the fall. WRCBTV reports Spence sad: "I would think that it's probably a recovery at this point, but we are taking it very seriously and we're going to do everything we can."
Authorities finally confirmed Saturday that they had found the body.
Sterchi said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified. He declined to identify both the student pilot and his instructor.
According to CS Monitor, the zodiac is a "side-by-side two-seat kit metal aircraft manufactured by Zenair of Midland, Ontario and Zenith Aircraft of Mexico, Missouri." The airplane is used mostly for leisure flights and instruction.