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Pilot Found Dead Inside Wreckage
Updated March 25, 2014 9:56 AM | Filed under: Accident
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(KNOXVILLE, TN) - Officials in East Tennessee say they have found wreckage from an aircraft that was reported missing and the pilot, who was the only person aboard, is dead.

Jim Maroney was a stunt pilot and was headed to New Symyrna Beach Florida. Maroney was a well known pilot, he helped Tom Cruise in the movie 'Top Gun' and had been flying for 38 years.

The aircraft - a single-engine World War II-era de Havilland DHC-1 - was reported missing Sunday evening after it didn't arrive in Canon, Ga. The flight originated in French Lick, Indiana.

Officials with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office (Tennessee) told media the wreckage was found in the Cherokee National Forest in an area that is not easily accessible by vehicle. Crews were able to access the area by air.

Maroney was found dead in the wreckage.

"We were able to hear the ELT on the aircraft going off we did a grid search to try and narrow it down to where it was. It took us about 30 minutes; we located the wreckage on the side of a ridge," says Sgt. Tony Chamberlain, pilot for the KSCO Aviation Unit.

On Monday, crews had the difficult task of trying to remove Maroney's body from the scene.

"It's on the south side of a ridge and the north side of the mountain in a very difficult position," says Chamberlain.

The FAA says the aircraft was flying on Visual Flight Rules and was not receiving air traffic control service. The aircraft is described as a vintage trainer used by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

An investigation into the crash continues. The NTSB says it could be several days before they figure out what caused the crash.

"We are going to do our best to try and make it to the wreckage site which is in very rugged terrain," says Ralph Hicks, with the NTSB. "We will take a look at all the flight controls, the cock-pit, take a look inside the engine, we're going to be doing all that in the next couple of days."

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