The missing plane and pilot said to have crashed in Etowah County were discovered by a search group Saturday morning.
Etowah County officials say William McClain, 76, of Acworth, Georgia, died after his plane crashed in a wooded area on private property in the Aurora area Thursday.
The Etowah County Sheriff's Office identified William "Bill" Elliot McClain, 76, as the pilot whose plane crashed on Thursday in Etowah County.
According to Sheriff Jonathon Horton, McClain was testing a flight route from Georgia to Arkansas, where he planned to fly this Tuesday to celebrate a shared birthday with his brother, Gary, when he crashed.
"This past week, he was to fly to Tupelo, which was halfway to Fayetteville -- where he was going to take his flight for the birthday -- and he made it to Tupelo, we understand,” Horton said.
“He didn't ground and for whatever reason he circled the airport and descended back to Acworth, Georgia, and this is about halfway between Tupelo and there."
Horton said aviation sources told him that McClain fell off radar shortly before 1 p.m. on Thursday, but area authorities weren't notified until about 8 p.m.
Groups began to search a four to six mile radius for the plane, an area Horton described as a “heavily wooded,” “treacherous terrain” -- making it a needle in the haystack situation.
Around 10 a.m. Saturday, a search group found McClain and the plane while walking the woods off of Old Baker Gap Road.
Horton said he wasn’t surprised that it took until the third day of the search to find McClain -- especially since the owners of the property where the plane crashed were not home.
"Even the helicopters, after the aircraft was found this morning, drones that took aerial videos still could not spot the vehicle above the trees to tell you how dense the area is."
Federal Aviation Administration officials were on site Saturday but were unable to provide any information about what caused the crash.
Sheriff Horton extended thanks to all of the agencies and community volunteers who helped during the search.
Marshall County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Saturday that the plane which took off from Calhoun, Georgia, on Thursday has now been found.
The pilot, 76-year-old William "Bill" Elliot McClain from Acworth, Georgia was found dead.
Officials said the plane was found at a crash site near Old Baker Gap Road, which is between Boaz and Aurora.
On Thursday, officials with the Etowah County Sheriff's Office told WAAY 31 the plane is a Zenith STOL CH750 and McClain was the only person inside at the time it disappeared from radar.