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3 Killed as Cloud-Seeding Plane Crashes

April 18, 2000|From Associated Press

RENO — A twin-engine plane on a cloud-seeding mission crashed just after takeoff Monday, killing all three people aboard.

An engine on the Navy surplus plane failed after the aircraft left Stead Airport, said John Doherty, a spokesman for the University of Nevada's Desert Research Institute.

The institute had contracted for the use of the plane with Advanced Aviation of Reno for a cloud-seeding mission in the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe. The institute seeds clouds during storms to increase snowfall and build water supplies for summer.

The names of the victims were not immediately released. Doherty said they were Advanced Aviation employees, not with the research institute.

The Federal Aviation Administration was sent to investigate.

Witnesses reported that the plane was in trouble and tried to return to the airport, said Adam Mayberry, a spokesman for the Washoe County Airport Authority.

It was the first fatal plane accident involving a cloud-seeding mission in Nevada since 1980, when the institute lost two pilots and two scientists in a crash.

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