Submitted by Susan Hardee Steger
January 26, 2015 2:38 p.m.

Crash 2
A 1973 Cessna 150 crashes on approach to runway. Photo Courtesy of Nick Feakes

A 1973 Cessna 150 piloted by Walter McFadden of Fernandina Beach, crashed  near the Fernandina Beach Airport on Sunday, January 25. A Fernandina Beach police officer was dispatched to Crane Island, at 1:36 p.m. According to a Fernandina Beach police report, the pilot had “obvious signs of facial trauma,” and possible back injuries.

Crash 1
Tire tracks appear to indicate the plane was flying in a northeast direction. Photo courtesy of Nick Feakes.

The report indicated that “from the debris field and tire tracks, it appears the airplane was flying in a northeast direction.  The airplane’s tires hit the side of a berm, went up and once on top of the berm, the plane flipped with the tail going over the nose of the airplane.  The front landing gear was detached from the airplane . . .”

Nassau County Fire Rescue (NCFR)  Battalion 1, responded to the accident site but a locked gate prevented access to the crash site until bolt cutters were brought in from NCFR Station 20.

Crane Island - Crash Area
Red line shows the path from Crane Island crash site to end of runway. Courtesy of Nick Feates

Kevin Valerio from Woodbine, Georgia, spotted the plane in a retention pond area on the north side of Crane Island while skydiving.   Valerio  believes the plane was preparing to land at a 130 degree heading.  He provided information to Sky Dive Amelia and was a witness interviewed by FBPD.

Airport Operations Manager, Robert Kozakoff, told police McFadden did not have a flight plan.

City Manager Joe Gerrity, who is also the airport manager, alerted commissioners of the incident on Sunday, January 25 at 2:21 p.m. Gerrity said the National Transportation and Safety Board will conduct an investigation.

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Dave Lott
Dave Lott
6 years ago

Hopefully Mr. McFadden’s injuries are not serious and he will recover quickly.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
6 years ago

I am confused . . . the pilot had no flight plan, but he was attempting to land at the airport? Is that legal? As a resident with a house near the airport, this is absolutely frightening! What are the laws governing private planes and flying over a residential area? What if this accident had happened at Isle de Mai, Egan’s Bluff, Persimmon Cove or Summer Beach?

Kris Stadelman
Kris Stadelman
6 years ago

I understand the pilot was 90 years old. Maybe it’s time to let go of that pilot’s license!
Of course “Any landing you can walk away from…!”

Andrew Curtin
Andrew Curtin(@bkdriverajcgmail-com)
6 years ago

…is a good one,but an even better one is when you can use the airplane again.BTW,how old was Pres.Bush when he made his last jump?About 90,I think.
For Ms.Bulger:Suggest you put a cork in the hysteria and talk to someone aviation knowledgeable.You might learn something.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Curtin

So, Mr. Curtin, please keep it civil and enlighten me . . . do private planes need to have a flight plan? Does our airport manager monitor all flights in and out of the airport? I think that it would be enlightening for many of us who live near the airport to hear what safety measures are taken to ensure residents are not in danger.

Again, the comment to “put a cork in it” was unkind and unnecessary.

Andrew Curtin
Andrew Curtin(@bkdriverajcgmail-com)
6 years ago

Ms.Bulger,
Got your attention.
In response to your specific questions:No and No.I’ll leave it at that as I no
longer have the patience to deal with the widespread lack of aviation
familiarity so prevalent in the general population.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Curtin

Thanks for your reply . . . this IS enlightening.

Vince Cavallo
Vince Cavallo(@grandvin)
6 years ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger

Ms Bulger,
You hit the third rail of airport politics in your question about the airport with the responder. Ya see, any discussion which points out the ridiculesness of having a busier airport, except from the business perspective, is shunted away by way of ridiculing those who raise the issue. I guess if some business wanted to build a rifle range inside Egans Creek, since it would be good for business, it would find proponents who would not notice the potential physical danger to the public not to mention the loss of tranquility.
To address one of your points, commercial pilots must retire at 65 per the FAA. There is no such requirement for private pilots albeit they must do a physical every two years over age 65.

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