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Student, instructor presumed dead in plane crash at Flagler-St. Johns county line

by: Larry Spruill, Action News Jax Updated:

Action News Jax is learning more about what could have caused a small plane to crash in the woods on the Flager/St. Johns county line.

The NTSB is investigating the crash. They believe an aviation instructor and student from a flight school in Ormond Beach were in the plane. The plane took off from Brunswick, Georgia, and was expected to land in Ormond Beach.

“This was a basic flight, evening-night flight, from Brunswick to Ormond Beach,” former airline pilot and Capt. Wayne Ziskal said.


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That was the route of what Ziskal calls a simple flight plan, but the trip was anything but normal.

Piece by piece, search crews removed the plane from the woods on Friday in Flagler County after it crashed, presumably killing the aviation instructor and student pilot.

James Kestner said he was at home when he heard the crash.

“It was clearly an engine flaming out. Then very quickly, about 5 to 6 seconds later, I heard a loud boom and the ground actually shook,” Kestner said.

Now NTSB investigators are trying to figure out what happened. FAA records show the plane was manufactured in 1979 and was just acquired by Sunrise Aviation in February of this year.

Ziskal said investigators will look at everything from the plane to the conditions that night.


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“The weather was nice, the navigation was no problem, it’s dark to one side and it's light to the other side. The issue also then becomes was the airplane structurally sound. If there was an engine problem, the airplane could certainly fly on one engine,” Ziskal said.

Ziskal said there’s another factor to this investigation.

“There were several airports in the vicinity, St. Augustine over the shoulder, Flagler right near, several airports the plane could have landed at,” Ziskal said.