Flight Instructor Vanishes Into Thin Air — What Happened To William James McAdams ?

Flight instructor William James McAdams has vanished into thin air; he allegedly stole a plane, took flight, and headed south, but no one knows where, or why, or if he even made it to his destination.

On May 8, McAdams, 24, was seen on security cameras taking a G1000 Skyhawk 1TG from his employer, Advantage Aviation, in Palo Alto. Then he flew the plane, without a flight plan and without notifying anyone of his plans, into the sky, CBS San Francisco reported.

No one has seen or heard from the flight instructor since he vanished. There have been no phone calls, posts to social media, or financial transactions, and detectives have checked with every airport from Palo Alto to Mexico looking for him.

Palo Alto Police Sgt. Brian Philip is simply stumped.

“I can’t say that we’ve ever investigated a case quite like this before. It is a strange, unique situation.”

Eight hours later, William was detected on radar at 2:45 a.m. 70 miles off the coast of central California, the Washington Post added. Then this troubling sign, another few hours later: The Federal Aviation Administration detected a bleep from the plane’s emergency distress beacon, but it was too brief to track, CBS News.

According to Palo Alto Online, the signal was picked up near the Mexican border. The FAA suggested the distress call may have been triggered if the plane crashed into the sea. And that’s distressing news for the young man’s mother, Stephanie McAdams.

“I’m just praying. I don’t know what happened.”

Police are doing their best to figure why he vanished so suddenly, probing the man’s background for clues, but coming up empty. However, there is one detail from his recent past that may offer a clue.

A few weeks before he vanished, on April 24, the instructor was arrested in Orange County, Florida and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, and battery. He was released from jail, ordered to stay away from his alleged victim, and is due in court for arraignment next month. He pleaded not guilty.

McAdams owns a flight school of his own, Fly High Aviation, and has described himself as “an aviation author, flight instructor, drummer, drum teacher, automobile and aircraft detailer and basketball enthusiast.” He’s a native of Wisconsin and has been an instructor since 2014.

It’s possible that after he vanished, seemingly into thin air, William landed at a private airfield. Of course, crashing is another possibility, and Philip told SF Gate investigators “can’t rule anything out.”

There is currently no active over-water search. Given speeds, wind, and other factors, it’s estimated the search area could be roughly the size of the Philippines, the Los Angeles Times added.

[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]