Safety officials have released the preliminary cause of a small plane crash that killed four skydivers in August.
The plane was a Cessna 182A, N4785D operated by The Jumping Place Skydiving Center. Three passengers and the pilot were fatally injured. One passenger was seriously injured.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, a missing fuel cap is believed to have caused the crash.
“The pilot asked the parachute rigger to get in contact with the maintenance facility on the airport to see if they had an extra fuel cap,” NTSB’s report reads. “The parachute rigger told the mechanic that they were missing a fuel cap and the maintenance facility sent someone over.”
NTSB says the pilot and mechanic told the parachute rigger they used “fuel cell tape” to cover the fuel filler port on the right wing.
According to the parachute rigger, there were five successful flight that day prior to the accident flight. The “fuel cell tape” was in place for the fifth and sixth flights.
A witness described the accident flight, saying the airplane climbed after takeoff, stopped about 150 feet over the runway, “rocked” left and right and pitched down to the ground. The plane then burst into flames.
According to The Jumping Place, Andrew “Drew” Swenson, Aliaksandr “Alex” Bahrytsevich, Christopher Eldridge and Justin Duff were killed in the crash.
William Middlebrooks was rescued from the wreck and transported to a nearby hospital with critical injuries. The Jumping Place says he was released from the hospital on Sept. 6 after spending nearly 5 weeks in the ICU undergoing surgeries.
Attached here is a statement from Air Star Flight Support, LLC’s attorney regarding the NTSB’s preliminary report.