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Doomed Airtanker Former CIA Plane

A firefighting tanker plane that crashed in California last June had a secret history. It once flew spy missions for the CIA.

A federal safety investigator says some records on the plane are missing – hindering the investigation of the crash that killed three crew members.

Investigators are not sure how long the plane flew with a wing assembly that eventually broke off. It could have been as little as 3,000 hours – or as long as 20,000 hours.

The revelation has renewed criticism of the Forest Service for putting the surplus military plane to work fighting fires. It was one of nearly two-dozen the Air Force released to private contractors in the late 1980s and early ยด90s under an aircraft exchange program.