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NTSB Report: Plane Had Water in Fuel Tanks

April 1, 1993

PERRIS, Calif. (AP) _ A skydiving plane had water and bacteria in one of its fuel tanks when it crashed on takeoff last year, killing 16 people, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report doesn’t single out a cause for the April 22 crash at Perris Valley Airport. The board is expected to make a probable determination in several months.

The Washington-based agency sent key portions of the 888-page document to The Associated Press on Thursday.

″The forward tank contained about eight gallons of a heavily contaminated mixture composed of water, an emulsifying agent and bacterial growth,″ the report said.

That tank supplied the right engine of the DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprop, the report said. It cited one witness who said the right engine suddenly lost power as the plane became airborne.

The plane yawed to the right, and its right wing dropped perpendicular to the ground just before the crash, the report said.

The pilot, co-pilot and 14 parachutists were killed. Six skydivers survived.

Water also was found in an airport fuel tank and a fuel truck, according to the report. It said the airport was using unapproved automotive filters on the truck and didn’t keep records showing its tanks were checked regularly for water buildup.

Melanie Conatser, who along with her brother leases the airport from her parents, said a contamination test is performed before every fuel delivery, including the day before the crash.

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

However, a fuel pump failed and a delivery 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.

The agency also noted irregularities in the flight records of the pilot and co-pilot.

Conatser said pilot Rowland E. Guilford’s flight log book was destroyed before the crash but he was known to have adequate experience.

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