Authorities asked business owners to evacuate a shopping center near Smith Mountain Lake as a small plane taken from a nearby airport circled the area on Monday.
Franklin County Administrator Rick Huff said the single-engine Cessna 172 took off from Roanoke Regional Airport about 11 a.m. ET. The pilot was not authorized to take the plane, he said.
The plane landed without incident several hours later at Roanoke Regional Airport in Virginia. Roanoke police said the pilot was with federal authorities, who were handling the investigation.
Authorities made a voluntary evacuation of Bridgewater Plaza as a precaution. Huff said some of the 25 or so business owners left.