The crash will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. McClain’s body will be autopsied at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.
“There does not appear to be (any) foul play and the incident appears to be a tragic accident,” Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton said in a press release.
Authorities had been searching for the small, lightweight plane that vanished above Alabama on Thursday night after taking off from northwest Georgia, according to reports.
Officials said the plane was on the return flight of a round-trip between Georgia and Mississippi when it disappeared northeast of Birmingham in Etowah County, about 90 miles west of Calhoun.
The pilot was scheduled to refuel in Tupelo but instead circled back toward Georgia without landing, The Associated Press reported.
Officials had speculated the plane may have gone down around Aurora Lake, south of Boaz, The Gadsden Times reported, citing officials with the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office.
When first alerted to the missing plane about 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton launched an immediate search of dense forest areas around Alabama Highway 179, according to reports.
Several police agencies and volunteer fire crews also joined the search, according to reports.
McClain built the Zenith CH750 aircraft over the past couple of years and was certified to fly, his brother Gary told the authorities, according to AL.com. McClain planned to fly from Georgia to visit his brother in Arkansas and celebrate their birthdays this week.
AJC staff writer ArLuther Lee contributed to this article.