Sunday, June 20, 2021

Cessna 150L, N1300Q: Fatal accident occurred June 18, 2021 in Yulee, Nassau County, Florida

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Textron; Wichita, Florida 

A-Cent Aviation Inc

Location: Yulee, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21FA258
Date & Time: June 18, 2021, 11:06 Local
Registration: N1300Q
Aircraft: Cessna 150
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On June 18, 2021, about 1106 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150L, N1300Q, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Yulee, Florida. The flight instructor and a student pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight departed Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (FHB), Fernandina Beach, Florida about 1056 and proceeded on a northwesterly heading for about 7 miles until over the St. Mary’s River. No ATC services were provided. The airplane performed several 360° turns, about 800 to 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The last radar return was about 300 ft south of the accident site, at 800 ft msl.

Witnesses at a nearby boat dock reported that the airplane descended into the St. Mary’s River at a near vertical, nose-down attitude. Two of the witnesses recalled that the engine was running until impact with the water.

The airplane impacted the river and sank in about 17 ft of water. There was no fire. The accident site was about 7 nm northwest of FHB. After recovery from the river, the wreckage was transported to an aircraft salvage facility for examination.

Initial examination of the wreckage revealed that all major structural components of the airplane were accounted for. The fixed, tricycle landing gear remained attached to the airframe. The wing flaps were found in the retracted position. The fixed-pitch propeller remained attached to the engine. Internal engine continuity was confirmed.

According to the operator, the airplane was purchased in December 2020 and was used for flight instruction since its purchase. According to the student pilot’s logbook, the accident flight was her fifth flight in the airplane, all with the same flight instructor. She had also logged flight instruction in a Diamond DA-20 airplane and had soloed in the DA-20. The flight instructor had logged about 4,000 hours of total flight time. 

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N1300Q
Model/Series: 150L 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFHB,17 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C /27°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 9000 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Fernandina Beach, FL (FHB)
Destination: Yulee, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.7097,-81.5436 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

David Cuttino

FERNANDINA BEACH, Florida – The flight instructor killed when a plane crashed into the St. Marys River on Friday was also a father.

His wife identified the victim as 66-year-old David Cuttino, sharing the news of his death on Facebook on Saturday morning.

“I can’t grasp the fact I will never again hear his Dad jokes, infectious laugh, beautiful smile, or take an afternoon nap on his shoulder, along with his favorite cats,” the post reads. “David was my heart and soul. I cannot put into words how much I love him.”

In addition to Cuttino, student pilot Alexis George, 18, was also killed. Both were Fernandina Beach residents.

A preliminary report by Florida Highway Patrol says the Cessna 150L had an unknown malfunction while flying out of the Fernandina Beach Airport.

Alexis George

ST. MARYS, Georgia – People waiting to board a ferry to Cumberland Island late Friday morning saw a small plane in distress and called 911. Minutes later, it crashed into the St. Marys River.

“We were just standing there waiting to get on the ferry and I just happened to look up and saw the plane. I thought it was doing a maneuver,” witness Bryan Womak told News4Jax. “It was already falling about 400 feet when I saw it diving. I said look at that plane. I assumed it was going to pull up, but it never did.”

St. Mary's police told News4Jax the bodies of a 66-year-old flight instructor and an 18-year-old student pilot were recovered from the wreckage in 17-feet of water.

Police said it was to have been the flight instructor’s last day on the job at A-Cent Aviation Inc. The student’s father identified her as Alexis George, who graduated from Fernandina Beach High School last week, had a passion for flying and earned a full scholarship to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

George’s father said the tragedy has been tough on her family and friends. Her father also wanted the world to know one more thing about his beloved daughter.

“She loved life. She believed in God. She’s gone to a better place,” father Michael George told News4Jax.

The Sheriff’s Office said deputies and the dive team responded and Florida Fish and Wildlife sent marine units to help. The Florida Highway Patrol is the primary agency handling the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA will also investigate.

According to a preliminary report by FHP, the plane suffered an unknown malfunction while flying.

News4Jax aviation expert Ed Booth explained why the Cessna 150L may have sunk so fast.

“One of the characteristics of this airplane, if it attempts to ditch in water, is it will flip upside down and sink, which appears to be what happened. That is due to the landing gear being fixed, welded down if you will. A retractable gear airplane is much easier in water than a fixed-gear airplane,” Booth said.

What exactly malfunctioned and the cause of that malfunction in the air will be investigated by NTSB.

But for now, a community is left mourning.

George said his daughter had already completed her first solo flight and that she was flying with her instructor to get more flight experience under her belt.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane, a single-engine Cessna 150, took off from Fernandina Beach Airport.

Two bodies have been recovered from the St. Marys River after a plane crash Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A Cessna 150L crashed into the St. Marys River near Nassau County about 11:55 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Highway Patrol confirmed that the two people who were on board during the crash were an 18-year-old trainee and a 66-year-old instructor pilot, both from Fernandina Beach. Initial reports revealed they were up for a flying lesson, Sgt. Dylan Bryan told news partner First Coast News.

A family friend identified the 18-year-old as Alexis George. “She was so excited about her future and loved to fly. She was a light," the friend said. “She was intentional about showing kindness to others.” 

George just graduated from Fernandina Beach High School on June 7 and had a full scholarship to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She planned on pursuing a future in aviation. She also was part of the school's girls basketball team, playing on the varsity squad as a junior and senior.

The instructor's name has not become available, but WJXT TV-4 said it was to have been his last day on the job at A-Cent Aviation Inc.

The plane departed from Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.

According to FHP's report, an unknown malfunction occurred while the plane was in flight, and the aircraft lost control. The possible reason for the loss of control is still under investigation. The report said the plane sank quickly.

Witnesses said the plane went down quickly as well.  

People called 911 mid-morning to report the small aircraft that appeared to be in trouble and going into the St. Marys River, Camden County Sheriff's Office Capt. Larry Bruce said. The fixed-wing aircraft crashed into a marshy area of the river.

"The plane was about to crash and I was like 'Call 911. Call 911,'" Jennifer Campbell, who witnessed the crash, said.

Campbell and her friend, Caroline Schuepbach, were standing on the dock near their boat when they heard the plane go down.

"It was really just kind of circling around and I kept thinking, 'What is that plane doing,' and I thought it was just going to pick back up, but it just went straight down," Campbell said. 

"I kept thinking, 'Ok, it will pull up. It will pull up,' and then I was like, 'Oh my gosh the plane is about to crash,' and they turned around and that’s when it went straight in," Campbell said. 

She said they called 911 and hopped in their boat to try to help. In the two to three minutes it took them to get to the boat, they said the plane was already submerged.

They said they found a binder with the pilot's emergency information and some other belongings among the debris, which they gave to law enforcement. 

"There was a headset that was destroyed it was hard to see," Schuepbach said.

Both Schuepbach and Campbell said they're thinking of the families of both victims. 

"It was really hard, especially coming back and seeing the family here. I feel really bad for them and I’m just sorry for them," Campbell said.

"I think that’s when it set in," Schuepbach said. "I think seeing her [the victim's wife], because you’re in shock anyway, and then knowing that there was a life lost, two lives apparently, that's really hard."

A dive team was requested for recovery efforts. Authorities said they’ll continue the plane recovery efforts Saturday as the investigation continues.

Family and friends of Alexis George and David Cuttino gathered at the Fernandina Beach airport Friday night for a candle light vigil. They died exactly a week ago after their plane crashed in the St. Mary’s River.


  1. Can't imagine it was carb ice. I also can't imagine he was doing stalls or steep turns that low. Perhaps looking at something on the ground and got uncoordinated? Hard to understand this one.

  2. Multiple 360's between 800-1000 feet. It sounds like they were performing Turns Around a Point ground reference maneuver.

    1. WAY too low to be doing any sort of maneuvers like that. Flight school had a 1500 AGL minimum for exactly this reason.