Authorities have recovered the body of a student pilot who fell from this Zodiac 601 two-seater when it apparently malfunctioned and went into a nose-dive. The unidentified student fell 2,500 to his death. The instructor pilot, who was also not identified, land the plane safely at Collegedale Municipal Airport in Bradley County, Tenn.
Police on Saturday recovered the body of a student pilot who was not wearing a seat belt during a training flight and tumbled from his small two-seater plane when it went into a nose dive over rural Tennessee.
Reuters reported that the body was found in a tree-line not far from a roadway.
The victim, who has not been identified, fell 2,500 feet to his death during the flight on Friday, WRCB-TV reported.
"The people inside the plane were not wearing seat belts," Bradley County interim fire chief Troy Spence told WRCB-TV. "So when they lost control of the plane, in an attempt to regain control of the plane, the passenger was ejected."
Spence said the instructor apparently had some kind of malfunction with the Zodiac 601 "and had a rapid descent."
Lowell Sterchi, who works at Collegedale Municipal Airport, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the student was being trained by an instructor in the small plane when the canopy came off.
The instructor, who also was not identified, managed to land the plane at the airport while emergency crews scoured the countryside around East Brainerd, Tenn., about eight miles away looking for the victim. East Brainerd is in the Chattanooga area.
Authorities were able to close in on the likely location using GPS coordinates and the pings from cellphones that the victim was carrying at the time, Sterchi said.
The Zodiac 601 is an all-metal, light sport plane that is built from a pre-cut, pre-drilled kit.
WRBC reported that flight records showed that the plane was built by 82-year-old Clarence Andrews, a local resident, who died in December in an accident involving a different plane.
Contributing: Associated Press
Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY