Victims identified in weather plane crash

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RENO, Nev. - The Washoe County coroner's office has identified the three victims killed when a cloud-seeding plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Reno-Stead airport.

Coroner Vern McCarty on Tuesday identified the men as Albert Redick, 66, owner of Advanced Aviation Services, and his employees, Richard Ahlberg, 55, and David Burke, 47. All three were from Reno.

The fatal crash occurred one mile north of the airport on Monday, apparently as the pilot desperately tried to return to the runway.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials were investigating the cause of the crash at the small airport that hosts the National Championship Air Races each September. It has no control tower.

Investigators on Tuesday could not say who was piloting the Grumman S-2C Tracker.

Advanced Aviation of Reno was under contract to Nevada's Desert Research Institute, according to DRI spokesman John Doherty.

The institute had turned on ground-based generators ahead of an approaching storm. The plane was to have dropped silver iodide crystals in more rugged areas the ground generators can't reach south and east of Lake Tahoe.

DRI typically seeds clouds during Sierra storms to increase the winter snowpack that provides summertime water to western Nevada.

It was the second fatal plane accident involving an institute flight. Two pilots and two scientists were killed during a research mission 20 years ago last month.

Those victims included research engineer Peter Wagner, the husband of former state Assemblywoman, Sen. and Lt. Gov. Sue Wagner.

Also killed were the pilot, John Lapham, a former board chairman of the Air Races; William Gaskell, an assistant research professor, and co-pilot Gordon F. Wicksten.


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