Federal officials opened an investigation of the Sept. 10 plane crash in rural Etowah County, Alabama, that killed a Georgia pilot who was flying to visit his brother in Arkansas.
William Elliot McClain, 76, of Acworth, Georgia, left Calhoun, Georgia, earlier in the day in a Zenith CH750 aircraft. He was headed to Tupelo, Mississippi, for a fuel stop and planned to continue to Arkansas where he and his brother were going to celebrate their birthdays on Sept. 15.
According to Al.com, the plane instead circled the Tupelo airport and headed back east.
Mr. McClain’s airplane disappeared from radar Thursday afternoon around 12:35 as it was flying over Alabama. The missing plane was reported to Etowah County officials at 8:15 that night.
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) dispatched helicopters to the area around the Aurora community, about 15 miles north of Gadsden, where Mr. McClain’s cell phone last pinged.
The search resumed with several volunteer firefighters on the ground the following day, Sept. 11. The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office said the missing aircraft was found in the morning. Mr. McClain’s body was found at the crash site in a rugged area with ridges, valleys, and thick woods, according to AL.com.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the crash.
Mr. McClain built the Zenith CH750 airplane over the last couple of years, his brother Gary McClain told authorities. The Etowah County Sheriff said that Mr. McClain was doing a test flight, using Tupelo as the halfway point.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation. Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes similar to the one described in this story, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. He currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.