January 26, Fernandina Beach, Fla. / Cessna 337


At about 1520 eastern time, a Cessna 337-O2A crashed into the ocean during a whale-survey mission about seven miles east of Fernandina Beach. The pilot and three passengers were killed. The pilot radioed the survey company that they had spotted whales. The owner of the airplane said the flight customarily would circle at 1,000 feet until a whale was spotted and then would descend to 750 to 500 feet for closer observations. While tracking a whale the pilot would bank the airplane to 45 degrees right bank, use approach flaps of 10 to 20 degrees and fly at 100 knots. After tracking the whale the pilot would climb the airplane to 1,000 feet and continue the pre-planned search area. The last radar hit on the flight showed the airplane at 600 feet with a ground speed of 0 knots.


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