Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Van's RV-12, N525AT: Fatal accident occurred October 26, 2021 near Davis Field Airport (3J6), Folkston, Charlton County, Georgia

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Parker Blount

Location: Folkston, Georgia
Accident Number: ERA22LA031
Date and Time: October 26, 2021, 23:23 UTC 
Registration: N525AT
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On October 26, 2021, about 1933 eastern daylight time, a Vans Aircraft Inc. RV-12, N525AT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Folkston, Georgia. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A witness, who lived near the Davis Field Airport (3J6), stated that he and his wife observed the accident airplane fly overhead from their driveway. He then walked inside his house and received a telephone call from a neighbor who reported that he observed an airplane flying with its right navigation light not operating. The neighbor further stated that it was too dark outside to identify the airplane. During the telephone call, the witness heard the airplane’s engine running “like it was hitting something” and the airplane crash. The witness and his wife drove their car to the accident site, which took about 30 seconds.

The airplane impacted next to a road and the engine was on fire when the witness pulled the pilot from the airplane. Shortly thereafter, the entire airplane was on fire.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the cabin, cockpit, and instrument panel were destroyed by a postimpact fire. The right wing was folded back and separated from the fuselage. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage; however, the outboard wing was impact damaged. The empennage section remained attached and sustained only minor damage. The engine remained attached to the fuselage, but the three blades on the propeller were separated.

The wreckage was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N525AT
Model/Series: RV-12 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: NightDark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KJAX,32 ft msl 
Observation Time: 19:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 26 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 310°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Winter haven, FL (GIF) 
Destination: Reidsville, GA (RVJ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.84,-82.013297 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Charlton County, Georgia — An 82-year-old pilot was saved from a fiery plane crash in Charlton County in Georgia Tuesday night.

Only Action News Jax talked to the man who rescued him moments after the plane burst into flames along Highway 121 in Folkston.

Michael Robinson is a local commercial airline pilot who lives in the area with his wife.

All of a sudden, he heard a giant crash near Highway 121.

“A friend told me he heard an airplane flying over low. He called on the phone. I opened the window. I don’t hear an airplane WHAM. It was a crack you know that hollow-sounding metal hitting a tree sort of thing,” Robinson said.

The plane went down near Davis Field Airport.

The Charlton County Sheriff’s Office told Action News Jax the pilot, an 82-year-old man missed the runway and hit a high voltage pole.

That caused the plane to burst into flames.

Within seconds Robinson and his wife came to that man’s rescue and pulled him out of the plane.

“There were flames around his legs and such. It was scary but you got to do it. You’re scared everything’s going to blow up around you too, but you got to get the guy out,” Robinson said.

That pilot was airlifted to UF Health in Jacksonville with serious injuries.

The FAA arrived on the scene Wednesday morning to investigate. It’s working with the NTSB to determine the cause of the crash.

Robinson thinks part of the problem is the runway lights at the Davis Field airport don’t work.

“That’s why lights at an airport are very important these have been broken a lot. They’re brand new and they’ve been broken a lot,” he said.

Action News Jax did reach out to Charlton County and checked the FAA website.

A NOTAM was issued on September 22, 2021 letting pilots know that the runway lights would be turned off.

In aviation, a NOTAM helps alert pilots of any potential hazards along their flight path.

Hampton Raulerson the county administrator told Action News Jax the manufacturer’s lights were “unreliable” which is why that notice was issued to give pilots a heads up while it works to fix the problem.

“It is pitch black. It is like flying in a bottle of black ink, there’s no lights around on the ground,” Robinson said.


  1. Crash was shortly after 7 pm EDT.


  2. This pilot is very fortunate to be alive. 1 1/2 hour flight into what appears to be an airport with possibly no edge lighting; NOTAM says edge lights are unserviceable. Heading north over a swamp, at night, no lights, about 3,000', then a sharp right turn toward 3J6. Maybe headed towards Reidsville and looking for a place to put it down but couldn't see the airport. Might be a recent purchase.

    1. Presumably the pilot planned/understood he would be making an after sunset landing in Georgia based on departure time and route. Folkston sunset on the accident day was at 6:44, 7:09 was the end of civil twilight, 7:37 was end of nautical twilight.

      Interesting to see that the accident day's Lakeland, Florida departure airport is where the plane was flown to from Reidsville on August 12. Was maintenance or mods performed there?


      ADS-B lookback also shows the aircraft operating in the Reidsville area June and July.

      Pilot's other registered aircraft (2012 photo):

  3. There are people who watch during a life and death situation and there are people who take action. Mr. Robinson and his wife are heroes and I hope they get recognition for seriously risking their lives or grave injury which could have ended Mr. Robinson's airline pilot career.

  4. Where is fuel tank on this plane? I was thinking in the wings but looks like cockpit burned while wings still there but damaged.

    1. Metal fuel tank is located behind the seat.

    2. Example RV-12 tank related photos:

      General view, fuse midsection:

      View of area behind seats before tank in place:

      View with tank in place:

    3. I wonder if that location makes it more likely to catch fire if breached upon impact?

    4. These planes are just as safe as a J-3 or Luscombe, and many Warbirds. If I built an RV-12 , I think I would try to incorporate a fuel cell mounted into a rigid protective enclosure vs. the welded aluminum tank with angle mounts welded to tank that above pictures show. I remember seeing one built this way at Sun and Fun.