(WMC) – The small plane that went missing around 11 a.m. on Wednesday was found crashed in a wooded area two hours later.
According to the Tipton County sheriff, the pilot's name is Kent Wingate, 62. Firefighters on the scene say Wingate was unconscious, but his heart rate and blood pressure were stable. He was taken to Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
"I really don't understand how he could survive something like that. People are resilient. It just wasn't his time," said pilot Ben Baker, who helped in the search.
Wingate and his Piper Archer single engine plane were found near the Hatchie River in Lauderdale County.
The plane went missing as it prepared to land at Covington Municipal Airport. The airport's manager said that Wingate told him he was out of fuel and was going to land the plane; it never landed.
Wingate was flying into town for a funeral. He retired from the United States Air Force where he was an aeronautical engineer.
According to our NBC affiliate, WDTN, Wingate lives in Xenia, Ohio, which is a suburb of Dayton. He works at Sinclair Community College.
"Kent Wingate is the chair of the Aviation Technology department," Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka said in a written statement. "Sinclair officials have been in touch with Kent's family to offer our support and the entire Sinclair community will keep Kent and the Wingate family in our thoughts during this difficult time."