First responders from multiple local and state agencies fight the fires caused by the crash of a C-130 Hercules cargo plane from Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The plane crashed near the intersection of Ga. 21 and Crossgate Road in Savannah, Ga. (Will Peebles/Savannah Morning News via AP)

60-year-old cargo plane that crashed in Georgia was on final trip

The C-130 cargo plane crashed in Savannah, Ga. on May 2.

An aging C-130 Hercules that rescued and resupplied U.S. citizens after last year’s hurricanes crashed onto a highway in Georgia during what was supposed to be its final flight, killing all nine Puerto Ricans on board.

After more than 60 years of government service, the huge plane was being flown into retirement in Arizona, reducing Puerto Rico’s National Guard fleet to five similar planes, two of which need maintenance and aren’t being used, Adjutant General Isabelo Rivera said.

“The planes that we have in Puerto Rico — it’s not news today that they are the oldest planes on inventory” among all National Guard planes nationwide, and they often face delays in getting spare parts shipped to the island, he said.

It’s too early to say what might have caused the plane to drop out of the sky onto Georgia’s Highway 21 moments after taking off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Rivera said the plane last received maintenance at the military base in Savannah in April.

All nine crew members had helped with hurricane recovery efforts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the Bucaneros, which flies out of Base Muniz in the northern coastal city of Carolina, Rivera said. The squadron used the plane to rescue Americans from the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ricans desperate for help after Hurricane Maria.

“The National Guard is an extended family,” Rivera said as doctors, psychologists and chaplains gathered to meet with the victims’ relatives.

The huge plane came down so hard that the only part still intact was its tail section, said Chris Hanks, a spokesman for the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association. The fuselage appeared to have struck the median, and pieces of its wings, which spanned 132 feet (40 metres), were scattered across lanes in both directions.

Related: Plane ‘too heavy:’ Plane crash victims file class-action lawsuit

The debris field stretched 600 feet (183 metres) in diameter, Effingham County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.

“It miraculously did not hit any cars, any homes,” she said. Eight hours after the crash, she confirmed that “To our knowledge there are no survivors.”

Motorist Mark Jones told the Savannah Morning News that he saw the plane hit the road right in front of him, and explode in a huge fireball.

“It didn’t look like it nosedived, but it almost looked like it stalled and just went almost flat right there in the middle of the highway,” Jones said.

“I’m still shook up and shaking. My stomach is in knots because I know they’re people just like me. I wasn’t that far from it and I could have just kept going and it would have been me and we wouldn’t be talking right now,” Jones said.

The U.S. territory’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello expressed his sadness, tweeting that “our prayers are with the families of the Puerto Rican crew.”

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash, and sent “thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard.”

Related: Pilot likely affected by ‘spatial disorientation’ in plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Russ Bynum And Danica Coto, The Associated Press

 

Smoke rises in the distant where an Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane crashed near an in Savannah, Ga., Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in this view from Poolers, Ga. (Minh Phan via AP)

Just Posted

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

District extends State of Emergency another week

There’s lots of work ahead, but today was a good day: BC Wildfire Service

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

Terrace-area hiking trail closed due to grizzly activity

Closure of Gunsight Lake Trail expected to last one week

Telegraph Creek wildfires merge into one

Wind shift offers chance to secure southern flank of 28,000-hectare blaze

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Ontario will sell pot online when legalization comes in the fall

There are further plans to have pot in private retail stores in early 2019

Woman missing after car swept away by mudslide near Cache Creek

A search is now underway for Valerie Morris, who has been missing since the afternoon of August 11.

Most Read