An airport employee has been arrested on suspicion of stealing a small plane that circled Mississippi for hours, threatened to crash into a Walmart store before landing safely in a soybean field.

Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, allegedly knew how to take off but never landed after a rough landing shortly after posting a goodbye message to his parents and sister on Facebook. He was unharmed afterward, officials said at a press conference.

The message read, “I didn’t want to actually hurt anyone.”

A plane rests in a soybean field after crash-landing near Ripley (AP)

Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan called the resolution a “best case scenario” after watching planes meander over his city on an unsettling morning.

No one was injured in this incident.

Tupelo Police Chief John Cuaka said Patterson had been hired a tanker plane at the Tupelo Regional Airport, giving him access to a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air C90A.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the 10-year employee of Tupelo Aviation took off on a plane full of fuel just after 5:00 a.m. local time (11:00 a.m. BST).

Fifteen minutes later, Patterson called the Lee County 911 dispatcher and told him he was going to crash the plane into a Tupelo Walmart, Cuaka said. Officers evacuated people from Walmart and his nearby convenience store.

Local Walmart evacuated after alarm was raised (via Rachel McWilliams AP)

“This is likely a crime of opportunity,” Cuaka said, adding that the airport’s towers were not staffed until 6 a.m.

Police negotiators were able to reach out during the flight and convince Patterson to land, but he didn’t know how.

Authorities said he nearly landed at Tupelo airport under the guidance of a private pilot, but at the last minute called off the attempt and resumed the flight.

Negotiators got back in touch around 10:00 a.m. and learned that Patterson had landed in a field and was unharmed.

The plane landed near Ripley, Mississippi, about 85 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee and about 45 miles northwest of Tupelo, Tennessee.

The incident sparked alarm among Mississippians (Rachel McWilliams via AP)

“There is damage, but believe it or not, the aircraft is intact,” the police chief told reporters.

Patterson, who said on his Facebook page that he’s from Shannon, was charged with grand theft and terrorism threats.

Cuaka said federal authorities could also file charges. According to police, Patterson is not believed to have a pilot’s license, but he has received flight instruction.

Tupelo Mayor Jordan said Patterson contacted his family during the flight. The mayor said he hopes Patterson “gets the help he needs.”

Patterson’s Facebook message, posted around 9:30 a.m., read: I really didn’t want to hurt anyone. I love my parents and my sister. This is not your fault. good bye. “

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