April 03, 2006

C-5 Galaxy crashes near Dover Air Force Base

*** UPDATED ***

Cargo Plane Crashes at Dover Air Base

Associated Press Writer

A C-5 cargo plane carrying 17 people crashed just short of a runway at Dover Air Force Base early Monday after developing problems during takeoff, military officials said. There was no immediate word on fatalities.

The plane, the military's largest, went down about 6:30 a.m., according to Tech Sgt. Melissa Phillips, a spokeswoman for the base.

Allen Metheny, assistant director in the state Department of Public Safety, said some people were taken to hospitals with injuries, but he did not have numbers or details of the severity. BayHealth in Dover said the hospital received about 10 people from the crash, including some who appeared able to walk, spokeswoman Pam Marecki said.

The plane broke into three pieces, with the cockpit separated from the fuselage and left lying at a right angle to the main part of the plane. The broken-off tail assembly was several hundred yards away, and a wing was shattered.

According to initial reports, it had just taken off and had some indications of a problem, said Col. Ellen Haddock, spokeswoman at the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff. It turned back to land and fell short of the runway, she said.

Maj. Ange Keskey of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois confirmed 17 people were aboard and said the crash is being investigated.

The C-5 Galaxy, made by Lockheed, is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It was first delivered to the military in 1970. Even with a payload of 263,200 pounds, the latest version can fly non-stop for 2,500 miles at jet speeds, according to Lockheed Martin Corp.

Dover is home to the 436th Airlift Wing, with more than 4,000 active- duty military and civilian employees, and operates the largest and busiest air freight terminal in the Defense Department. The base is also home to the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, which processes bodies from the nation's wars.

Thankfully, so far, no deaths have been reported.

Please keep the servicemen and women and the families of the Dover AFB in your prayers. Needless to say, I'm sure the citizens in the Dover area and the rest of the base personnel will be a bit on edge.

UPDATE: Good news!

Thank God Almighty, despite injuries, all 17 people aboard survived!

UPDATE #2: Possible cause identified?

[...] The engine failure may have been the result of birds being sucked into the engines, a known cause of engine failure, a spokeswoman a spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon said.

Officials at the Dover base have warned for years of the danger posed by birds feeding at the Eastern Shore Environmental garbage transfer station on 26 acres off Postles Corner Road just east of the main runway at Dover Air Force Base. That transfer operation is in the process of being relocated to a 20-acre site south of Farmington.

“I can confirm that they [DAFB] are reporting engine failure,” the pentagon spokeswoman said. “The initial suspicion in cases like that is birds. It’s something investigators always look at. It’s a known cause of engine failure.”

It seems, as the story suggests, the pilots prevented a worse crash from occurring:
[...] A former reserve safety officer at Dover said the pilot and co-pilot of today’s C-5 crash likely prevented more serious injuries by steering the plane to the ground with the wings level.

[...] [Lt. Col. Jay] Lacklen credits the pilots for minimizing the damage from the crash.

“The most crucial aspect of the crash is they hit wings level. Had they hit a wing tip first, they’d all be dead. That is the rule, if you are going down, at least go down wings level,” he said. “As always, though, the first reason you suspect for a crash is almost always wrong, so I won’t speculate on why it happened, I can only judge what happened when they hit.”


Posted by Kyer at April 3, 2006 08:21 AM | TrackBack