Cambridge uni student, 19, forced plane door open and jumped to her death after overpowering fellow passenger on Madagascar flight

Tragic Alana Cutland, 19, fell over 3,500 feet from the Cessna light aircraft during a flight back from a remote lodge where she was studying a rare species of crabs.

Investigators said the student suffered five “paranoia attacks” while on the “failed” research trip which she funded herself.

Alana is understood to have fought off fellow passenger, Brit tourist Ruth Johnson, who had battled to try and keep her in the aircraft for several minutes.

The tiny propeller plane was rocking through the air as Ruth – the only other passenger – and the pilot grappled onto Alana’s leg in a bid to stop her death plunge.

But local cops said 19-year-old managed to free herself from their “exhausted” grip high above the paradise Indian Ocean island falling into the wild savannah below.

Cops and locals have been trying to find her body in the remote Analalava region, but fear they will never find her due the remote location.

Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary told how they had recreated the horrifying flight after taking statements from Ms Johnson and the pilot.


Images sent to The Sun show – in a recreation – how the passenger desperately clung to Alana’s leg before she let go through exhaustion around 15 minutes after take-off on July 25.

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

“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.”


Alana had been due to stay on the research trip for six weeks, but cut it short after eight days after speaking to her parents Alison and Neil Cutland, both 63.

Yesterday her parents paid tribute to their daughter.

In a statement released by the Foreign and Commonwealth officer, they said: “Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her.

“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 complimenting 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.”

Alana had been working on an animal biology project studying crabs on the shoreline and was hosted by the Anjajavy Lodge.


She was due to be flying home when she plunged from the small plane.

Mr Nomenjahary said the conclusion of their investigation was that it was an “intentional fall” and that they were working with British authorities who were speaking to her family.

As well as the reconstruction local police have interviewed management at the hotel, Ms Johnson and the pilot and searched Alana’s luggage.

They have also read through her documents and messages.

He added: “The victim is a student who has failed on research work and was asking for a lot of moral support.

“She had personally finances her research and had suffered a paranoia attack five times.

“Her stay in Madagascar was interrupted, instead of six weeks she was here for eight days.

“The witnesses claimed that Alana had difficulty managing her private life and her research.

“She was in regular contact by email with her parents to whom she receives moral support. She did not handle her stresses well.

“On Ms Johnson’s departure day Alana’s parents agreed that Alana should interrupted her research fly with Ms Johnson.”

Today, a pal described Alana as “beautiful inside and out.”

They said: “She was amazing, one of the most beautiful and pure girls I’ve ever known – inside and out.

“The whole thing has been a nightmare for her family and friends back home in the UK.

“We knew she was getting some sort of plane trip last week to study the seabed on a neighbouring island, but then contact went dead and we started to fear the worst.

“Alana had so much going for her. She loved animals and nature and was over the moon to be going to Madagascar to pursue her passion.

“She was also the vice-president of a dance society at Cambridge. There was no end to her talents and we can’t think why she would have done this.”

Senior Tutor, Dr David Woodman, from Alana’s Robinson College said: “Robinson College is deeply shocked by the news of Alana’s death.

“In her two years here, she made a huge contribution to many different aspects of life in the College.

“She will be sorely missed by us all. The College extends its sincerest condolences to Alana’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

Written by