Military begins probing crash


Associated Press

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga.

Military investigators began the arduous task Thursday of answering why a C-130 Hercules cargo plane being flown into retirement by an experienced crew plunged onto a Georgia highway. Families and friends of the nine airmen, meanwhile, grieved and took note of the fact that Puerto Rico’s planes are the oldest in the National Guard inventory.

There were no survivors when the huge plane dropped from the sky moments after taking off from Savannah, Ga., narrowly missing motorists and buildings as fiery wreckage exploded over a wide area. Only the tail section was intact, sitting improbably in the middle of Georgia Highway 21.

A military officer told reporters Thursday that investigators were on the scene, but he offered no preliminary findings

“It’s extremely important for us to understand what has happened,” said Col. Pete Boone, vice commander of the 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard. He said investigators would use “every resource at our disposal to properly identify a cause.”

The aging plane had rescued and resupplied American citizens after last year’s hurricanes as part of the U.S. territory’s fleet, which often struggles to remain mission-ready amid long waits for spare parts, said Adjutant Gen. Isabelo Rivera, commander of the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The plane crashed after taking off from Savannah/ Hilton Head International Airport en route to Arizona, where it would have been retired from service. Boone said it had received “routine maintenance” while in Savannah.

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