By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
NTSB: Fuel cap missing before fatal Swainsboro plane crash
Preliminary report indicates crew used 'fuel cell tape'

SWAINSBORO — A small plane that crashed in Georgia last month, killing four people, took off without a fuel cap, federal investigators said.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane's pilot and a mechanic told a parachute rigger they planned to use "fuel cell tape" to cover an open fuel port.

Four people died when the plane operated by a skydiving service crashed Aug. 25 near Swainsboro in eastern Georgia. The dead included Army Staff Sgt. Aliaksandr Bahrytsevich, a member of the military parachute team the Golden Knights.

The NTSB's preliminary findings said the parachute rigger saw the plane take off with a group of skydivers after he reported the fuel cap missing, the Augusta Chronicle reported . It landed and took off with another group before crashing.

The report states a parachute rigger noticed that the plane's right wing was missing a fuel cap while the pilot was fueling the craft. The pilot asked the parachute rigger to contact the maintenance facility at the airport to see if it had an extra fuel cap.

"The parachute rigger saw the mechanic and the pilot working on the airplane, and later told the parachute rigger that they decided to use 'fuel cell tape' over the fuel filler port," the report states.

The plane took off for one flight with skydivers and then returned for the final group of skydivers. According to the report, the rigger saw the plane taxi for takeoff, but did not see the takeoff.

The plane, a Cessna 182A aircraft, was owned by The Jumping Place Skydiving Center in Statesboro.

Justin Duff, 42, of Statesboro; Bahrytsevich, 31, of Raeford, North Carolina; Andrew Swenson, 23, of South Daytona Beach, Florida; and Chris Eldridge, 42, of Rincon, Georgia, died in the crash, according to Emanuel County Coroner Randy Love.

William Middlebrooks was injured in the crash.

The NTSB investigation continues.

Information from: The Augusta Chronicle ,

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter