Local flight instructor killed in plane crash was a Navy veteran; employer defends safety record

911 calls from witnesses reveal final moments

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — Action News Jax has learned the name of the flight instructor who was killed in a plane crash last Friday.

Friends and family identified him on social media as 66-year-old David Cuttino. He and a student pilot, 18-year-old Alexis George, crashed into the St. Marys River.

”What was your reaction when you first heard the news?,” Action News Jax Ben Becker asked friend Jason Carroll.

“Deeply sad,” said Carroll.

Carroll is a sports reporter in Arkansas whose staff was flown by Cuttino for years to cover various Arkansas Razorbacks football and basketball games. He says Cuttino was a safe pilot.

Cuttino’s family is mourning as well. His wife posted on social media, “David was my heart and soul. I cannot put into words how much I love him.”

Cuttino’s daughter posted he “achieved the rank of Commander before retiring from the Navy” and went on to say “the crash happened only 2 months after his brother, father of 4, died in another tragic accident. The mind grasps for meaning in times like this.”

In a preliminary report the Florida Highway Patrol stated that the single-engine Cessna 150 was flying out of the Fernandina Beach airport and had an unknown malfunction.

911 calls from crash witnesses reveal the plane’s final moments.

”Hey, I just saw a plane crash from the St. Mary’s downtown dock,” a man told a 911 operator.

“We’re on a boat about to head over there right now. He went straight into the water and we heard a boom.”

Cuttino worked for A-Cent Aviation in Jacksonville.

The company declined to speak to Becker about its safety track record, but did post a statement on social media that reads in part:

”A-Cent Aviation has a strong record of professional aircraft maintenance, successful safety inspections from the FAA, pilot training, and overall flight safety.”

Becker reached out to the FAA to get the company’s safety records and is waiting to hear back.

Cuttino and his wife also ran Cat Ranch Sanctuary, Inc. in Fernandina Beach, which helps find homes for a variety of animals.