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Tue, Jun 29, 2004

Jump Plane Down In Britain

Four Dead

Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch was in Devon Monday, where a Cessna 206 went down while ferrying skydivers to altitude.

Witnesses to Sunday night's accident said they heard the Stationair's engine sputter and surmised the aircraft was in trouble.

"I was closing my foresters' lodge. I looked up and saw it was having difficulty keeping the engine going," said David Prosser, one of the first to arrive at the crash site. He was interviewed by The Exiter Express & Echo. "It must have been only about 100 feet. It tried to fire the engine a couple of times. Then it went over the trees from our view. Within ten seconds I heard a couple of sharp bangs or cracks. There was no explosion.

"I realized it had crashed," he continued. "I told my assistant Nicky to run up the track with her mobile phone. I drove the four wheel drive up through a couple of fields. When I got to the plane their was fuel coming out of it. It was a jumbled up mess. Nicky was at the bottom of the field by the fence, talking to the emergency services. She shouted at me to get away because there was fuel coming out. I tried to direct the fire brigade and the police. I went down the field to meet them. I took three of the firemen up in my truck and led the other crew up from my farm. I then took a back seat. I could only see three in the plane. There was nothing really I could do. My only regret is I didn't shout to them to give them encouragement. Nicky was shouting to them. I did what I thought was best."

An unnamed fire department spokeswoman told the newspaper the flight originated from Dunkeswell Airfield in Devon. "They were up there for a parachute jump and all we knew when we were arriving at the scene was that the plane had contained five parachutists and a pilot," she said.

FMI: www.aaib.dft.gov.uk

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