SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -An extensive and thorough investigation into what caused a WC-130 Hercules plane to crash on Highway 21 in May states that pilot error caused the crash.
The plane was assigned to a crew from the 156th Airlift Wing in Muniz Air Base from Puerto Rico. Their mission was to deliver the craft from Savannah to an Air Force base in Arizona commonly refered to as the “Boneyard”, where it would be decommissioned.
According to the report, as the crew was navigating the aircraft down the runway to prepare for takeoff, the left outermost engine experienced significant problems which greatly affected the thrust, the force which moves the plane through the air. This went unnoticed by the crew until moments before liftoff, when the plane veered to the left and almost went into the grass, shortly before achieving flight.
An Accident Investigation Board Team found that the crew’s mismanagement of the malfunction deviated from standard procedures. Failure to follow those procedures made further action by the pilot result in loss of control of the aircraft, causing it to crash.
“The purpose of the investigation was to identify the cause and contributing factors that led to this tragic and unfortunate incident,” said Accident Investigation Board team leader Brig. Gen. John C. Millard. “By conducting a thorough review and investigation, we hope to provide answers to the families of brave Airmen that lost their lives and prevent future occurrences and tragedies.”
Millard’s Total Force Team spent close to a month reviewing an array of sources including interviews, logs, video, briefing materials, and inspection of aircraft wreckage before assembling a detailed sequence of events surrounding the crash.