Chattanooga: Plane pilot ejected without parachute in freak accident over East Brainerd

A ground search is under way for a pilot trainee who was ejected from his aircraft in the air over East Brainerd, sources said.

The owner/trainee was flying his Zodiac 601 experimental aircraft at about 2,500 feet when the canopy came off, Collegedale Municipal Airport employee Lowell Sterchi said. The pilot's seat belt wasn't fastened and he was thrown from the craft somewhere over the East Brainerd/Apison area.

Sterchi would not give the pilot's nor the instructor's names. He said the instructor landed the plane. He was physically unhurt but badly shaken.

Collegedale police and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office are searching the ground. The pilot had his own and the instructor's cellphones and those are being pinged in hopes of locating the body, Sterchi said.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified.