Friday, September 11, 2020

N656BN: Zenith CH 750 Cruzer: Fatal accident occurred September 10, 2020 in Etowah County, Alabama

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Alabama and NW Florida 

Aircraft crashed into heavily wooded area under unknown circumstances.

Date: 12-SEP-20
Time: 12:23:00Z
Regis#: N656BN
Aircraft Make: ZENITH
Aircraft Model: CH750 CRUZER
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91
City: BOAZ

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

William E. McClain, a pilot killed in a plane crash in Etowah County, Alabama is shown in a photo released by the sheriff's office.

Search crews this morning found the body of 76-year-old pilot William Elliot McClain at the site of a plane crash in Etowah County, officials said.

McClain’s body was found at the crash site in a thick, wooded area off Old Baker Gap Road in the Aurora community, about 15 miles northwest of Gadsden. McClain was from Acworth, Georgia.

The crash will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. McClain’s body will be autopsied at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

“There does not appear to be (any) foul play and the incident appears to be a tragic accident,” Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton said in a press release.

McClain built the Zenith CH750 aircraft over the past couple of years and was certified to fly, his brother Gary told the authorities. McClain planned to fly from Georgia to visit his brother in Arkansas and celebrate their birthdays this week.

The plane went off radar Thursday afternoon in the west end of Etowah County in Alabama. The plane left Calhoun, Georgia earlier that day headed for Tupelo, Mississippi, where it was supposed to refuel. Instead, the plane circled the airport in Tupelo and headed back east.

The sheriff said McClain was doing a test flight to Tupelo — the halfway point between his departure point in Georgia and landing location in Arkansas.

Search teams and helicopter crews had been looking for the plane since Thursday evening near Aurora Lake. The area has rugged terrain with ridges, valleys and thick woods around various farms, ponds, lakes and homes, the authorities said.

The crash site was discovered around 10:30 a.m. today.

Etowah County Sheriff's Office
The Missing Aircraft was located this morning in a wooded area in the Aurora Community.  Many thanks to the countless organization and volunteers. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers as it appears to be a tragic accident. Once family and appropriate notifications are made more information will be available.

North Alabama Authorities are searching for a missing plane in Etowah County.

According to a spokesperson with the Etowah County Sheriff's Office, a Zenith STOL CH750 disappeared from radar Thursday afternoon around 12:45 with one person onboard.

At 8:15 last night, the missing plane was reported to Etowah County authorities.

Search crews are focusing on a three mile radius in the area near Aurora Lake, along Lawson Gap Road and Baker Gap Road. That's about 6.5 miles northeast of Gadsden.

According to the flight plan, the pilot left Calhoun, Georgia and was headed to Tupelo, Mississippi for a fuel stop. A spokesperson for the Etowah County Sheriff's Office told WAAY 31, the pilot made it to Tupelo, circled the airport, but never landed and headed back.

Marshall County Sheriff's Office and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) deployed their helicopter to assist with search efforts. There are also a number of volunteer fire departments assisting on the ground.

ETOWAH COUNTY, Alabama (WIAT) — On Friday morning, crews continued the search for a plane that disappeared from radar over Etowah County the night before.

Helicopters searched the Aurora community Friday. This is the area in which the pilot’s phone pinged before the plane went off the radar.

At this point, it has been confirmed there was one man on the plane. According to law enforcement, the plane was flying back to Calhoun, Georgia when it disappeared from the radar.

The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the pilot, an unnamed man from Mississippi, was flying an experimental plane that he had built.

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