Madagascar Police Chief Sinola Nomenjahary said her fellow passenger tried valiantly for five minutes to stop Alana Cutland jumping out of the plane.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on August 1, 2019

Alana Cutland, a 19-year-old student from one of the UK’s top universities, has, according to police, forced open the door of an aircraft and leapt to her death.

Cutland, a second-year Biological Natural Sciences student, fell more than 5,000ft (1,130 metres) from the aircraft while on a study trip in Madagascar, east Africa.

Investigators said the student suffered five “paranoia attacks” while on the “failed” research trip into a rare species of crab, which she funded herself, The Sun reported.

Alana is understood to have fought off fellow passenger, British tourist Ruth Johnson, who battled for several minutes to try to keep her in the aircraft. Johnson and the pilot grappled onto Cutland’s leg in a bid to stop her from jumping. The incident happened 15 minutes after take-off.

Alana Cutland Instagram.jpeg
Alana Cutland, 19, was in her second year at Cambridge University. Photo: Instagram

Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary said Ruth Johnson desperately clung to Cutland’s leg before she let go through exhaustion around 15 minutes after take-off on July 25.

“The Cessna C168 aircraft was taking off from Anjajavy with three people aboard, including Johnson, Alana and the pilot,” Nomenjahary said.

“After 10 minutes of flight, Alana undid her seatbelt and unlocked the right door of the plane and tried to get out.

“Ms Johnson fought for five minutes trying to hold her, but when she was exhausted and out of breath she let go.

“Alana then intentionally fell from an aircraft at 1130 meters above sea level.

“She dropped into a zone which is full of with carnivorous Fossa felines.”

Cutland, whose body has not been found, was meant to be on the study trip for six weeks but had shortened the trip after talks with her parents Neil and Alison Cutland, both 63.

“Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her,” her parents said in a statement released by the UK Foreign Office.

“She was always so kind and supportive to her family and friends, which resulted in her having a very special connection with a wide network of people from all walks of her life, who we know will miss her dearly.

“Alana grasped every opportunity that was offered to her with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, always seeking to extend her knowledge and experience in the best ways possible.

“She was particularly excited to be embarking on the next stage of her education, on an internship in Madagascar complementing her studies in Natural Sciences.

“Alana was also a talented dancer and embraced the more creative side of her talents with joy and commitment.

“Her thirst for discovering more of the world always ensured she made the most of every second of her action-packed young life.

“We are heartbroken at the loss of our wonderful, beautiful daughter, who lit up every room she walked in to, and made people smile just by being there.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) 1-800-273-8255