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HILL AIR FORCE BASE (AP) -- An Air Force investigation released Monday blames a layer of water on the Salt Flats west of Salt Lake City for a F-16C crash that killed Lt. Col. Dillion L. McFarland.
The calm water created a mirror-like surface on Nov. 13 that reflected the plane and led McFarland to believe that he had unlimited maneuvering room.
McFarland, 40, crashed after his loss of "situational awareness, resulting from channelized attention and an optical illusion caused by unusual environmental conditions," according to a statement from the 419th Fighter Wing.
McFarland, a commercial pilot, husband and father of two who lived near the base, joined the 419th in 1998 and had more than 3,000 flying hours in an F-16, including 85 combat hours.
The plane was destroyed during the crash, and the cost of the accident is estimated at $25.4 million.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)