Stolen Plane Crashes, Pilot Missing
A Piper PA32 crashed in a wooded area about 20 miles from Horace Williams Airport, in North Carolina, Tuesday at about 7 a.m. -- the aircraft was stolen, the pilot was missing, and someone left a blood trail. According to local police, the pilot is believed to have escaped out the front window of the aircraft after the crash. He or she then crawled onto the wing before leaving the scene into the surrounding woods. Authorities say there was no significant fuel spilled at the site of the crash. According to local news, as of Wednesday evening the pilot had been identified, but not found.
The aircraft had been stolen sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning and a search had involved the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which tracked the aircraft's ELT beacon. Satellites had picked up the signal, presumably when the aircraft crashed. The aircraft was located and identified by CAP, which ran a search for the registered owner. Authorities allege the Piper Saratoga was stolen by 46-year-old Curtis Rene Mellott. A warrant was issued for Mellott on charges of felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen property. Bloodhounds were brought in to track the pilot, who authorities speculated may be disoriented and wandering in the woods.