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Water Found in Skydiving Plane’s Fuel Tank, Investigators Say

April 1, 1993

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ Investigators found water in the fuel tanks of a skydiving plane that crashed last April, killing 16 people.

Investigators didn’t single out a specific cause for the April 22 crash at Perris Valley Airport - a probable determination is expected within several months. A National Transportation Safety Board report noted that the pilot was recently hired and his co-pilot once forgot to drop the wheels for a landing, The Press-Enterprise reported today.

The plane, De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, crashed during takeoff when its right engine failed. The pilot, co-pilot and 14 of the 20 skydivers aboard were killed.

The fuel wasn’t checked before it was pumped into the plane, and the airport’s operators failed to regularly check the fuel storage tanks for contamination, the NTSB said.

Water was found in the plane’s fuel tanks and in the airport’s fuel storage facility, the NTSB said.

Melanie Conatser, who leases the airport from her parents, said contamination tests were carried out the day before the crash.

″That test concluded that there was no contamination,″ she said.

However, a fuel pump failed after the delivery and a company was called in to help, she said. ″We strongly believe the contamination came from the truck contracted to perform the fuel pumping,″ she said.

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