ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Two people died in a plane crash Tuesday at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport, authorities said.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, two people were aboard a single-engine Cessna 152 that crashed about 2:30 p.m. at the airport located just north of St. Augustine on U.S. Highway 1.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax that both people were killed.
According to a former student at Florida Flyers Flight Academy, the two were a young student and a flight instructor.
Dylan Cochran told News4Jax that he was driving on U.S. 1 when he witnessed the crash and called 911. He said he was thinking, “Is this really happening right now?”
Cochran said he noticed the plane was on approach to the longest runway at the airport when it began to wobble.
“It started wiggling. The wings started going up and down, and next thing you know, it slams into the runway. It slid about 20 feet, and within seconds, the plane engulfed in flames,” he said. “It started breaking apart. Wheels everywhere. You saw pieces of it breaking up.”
News4Jax aviation expert Ed Booth said what the witness described suggests the plane had gone into a stall.
“That is indicative to nearing its minimum controllable airspeed, after which the wing stalls and it departs controlled flight, usually nosing straight down,” Booth said.
According to FlightAware, the Cessna took off from Northeast Florida Regional Airport at 1:46 p.m., and by 2:26 p.m., radar was tracking the plane at 700 feet, traveling at a speed of 87 mph. Booth said stall speed is around 47 mph. He said he believes something may have happened to the engine, causing the plane to lose speed and stall on approach to the runway. Unfortunately, radar does not track airplanes below 700 feet.
St. Johns County Fire Rescue, the St. Augustine Fire Department and the Florida Highway Patrol were among the agencies that responded to the scene. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
NTSB is investigating the June 29, 2021, crash of a Cessna 152 near St. Augustine, Florida. An NTSB investigator is expected to arrive on scene Wednesday.— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) June 29, 2021
An NTSB investigator is expected to arrive on scene Wednesday, and the plane will remain on the runway until then.
According to the FAA, the airport will be closed until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Earlier this month, an 18-year-old student pilot and her flight instructor died when a Cessna 150 crashed into the St. Marys River. In April, three people were killed when a Beechcraft Musketeer crashed in a wooded area in Middleburg. These recent crashes are still under investigation.