USAF REPORT BLAMES FATAL C-135 CRASH NEAR EDGEMONT ON WINDS
A U-S Air Force report says a North Carolina Air National Guard plane that crashed July 1st while fighting wildfires near Edgemont went down because the crew misjudged conditions and flew into a wind burst that slammed them to the ground. Four crewmembers aboard the C-130 Hercules air tanker were killed in the crash while 2 survived.
The accident investigation report released Wednesday by the Air Force Air Mobility Command says the crash happened because the crew made an “inadequate assessment” of conditions and flew into a microburst...a narrow, short-lived wind gust that rushes downward out of a thunderstorm.
A microburst is typically less than 2.5 miles in diameter and lasts for less than 5 minutes. The report says two other plane crews on the scene failed to communicate critical information about the conditions, and that the C-130′s crew received conflicting information on avoiding a thunderstorm.
The North Carolina Air National Guard said in a statement released after the report that it would study the accident investigation’s findings to prevent future tragedies.
The C-130 was one of 8 specially equipped for firefighting duties, 3 of which are part of the Air National Guard’s 145th Air Wing…based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The plane that crashed was one of 3 sent by the unit to battle fires in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
It was flying out of Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs when it was assigned to the 14-square mile White Draw Fire on primarily National Forest land near Edgemont when it went down.
Killed were 42-year old Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, 36-year old Major Joseph McCormick, 35-year old Major Ryan David, and 50-year old Senior Master Sgt. Robert Cannon, all North Carolina residents.
All of the specially-equipped C-130s were grounded immediately after the crash, but returned to service about a day later…although the other North Carolina planes quickly returned home.