Troy Spence, BCFR interim chief, said the deceased body was located today at 11:45 a.m. The body was reportedly found at the intersection of Old Lead Mine Valley Road S.W. and Weatherly Switch Trail S.W.
According to Bob Gault, public information officer for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the airplane was a small single- engine aircraft with two pilots on board. The plane reportedly left from the Collegedale airport in Hamilton County.
“The flight path took the plane over the southern part of Bradley County, which largely consists of rural areas,” Gault said. “While flying over south Bradley County, the [plane’s] canopy malfunctioned and as a result, one of the two pilots was ejected from the aircraft.”
According to Gault, the other pilot was able to fly back to the Collegedale Municipal Airport. The pilot then reportedly contacted the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. BCSO was contacted around 4:15 p.m. as it was a part of the aircraft’s flight plan and jurisdiction.
A search party was organized by BCFR and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Additional aid was reportedly provided by a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter team.
Spence said an idea of where the body was located came from locating the phone of the ejected pilot.
“We pinged the pilot’s cell phone, because it fell out of the plane as well,” Spence said. “We also found half of the pre-flight check sheet. We kept working our way back toward town [in search of the body].”
Friday’s search reportedly ended at 11 p.m.
“We had covered most of the areas which were open fields. We knew we would have to be in the woods, and there is a better chance of missing [the body] in the dark,” Spence said.
He said the search party knew they were in recovery mode because of the height the victim fell from the plane. The search recommenced Saturday morning at 8 with help from the Tri-Community Fire Department.
“This morning we opted to start at the fire hall and work our way south,” Spence said. “About thirty minutes into that, we found [his] hat.”
Gault said both the BCSO and BCFR are no longer a part of the investigation.
“The sheriff’s office does not deal with aircraft matters,” Gault said. “Our main focus was not determining what happened, but trying to find the missing pilot.”
Gault said names are not being disclosed at this moment. He said identification may be available to the public Monday.