Early Wednesday morning, an Air National Guard WC-130 crashed near Savannah, Georgia, killing all five crew members on board. The plane went down just a few miles from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
Witnesses reported hearing a “loud, strange noise,” as they watched the plane flying at “very low altitude and making a hard left turn to the ground” seconds before it crashed and exploded. They described the impact, which could be felt miles away, as a bomb exploding. Some reported that the impact shook their building and knocked out power to area homes, schools and businesses.
The airplane was part of the 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Air Force confirmed that it is used for weather reconnaissance. It had been in Savannah for routine maintenance and was scheduled to travel to Arizona. It was conducting a training mission when it crashed.
The cause of the crash will be investigated by board officers.
“While we don’t know the cause of the crash at this time, it is tragic that we continue to see needless loss of life among our service members,” said Mike Andrews, principal at Beasley Allen Law firm and author of Aviation Litigation & Accident Investigation. “They sacrifice so much for our country and deserve the best and safest equipment, including much safer aircraft.”
Photos of the accident were released via Twitter by the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association showing pieces of the plane scattered across State Highway 21, along with blackened debris and smoke rising from the crash site. Officials report that no cars were involved in the crash.
Military c130 down at 21 and Gulfstream Rd. Avoid the area. 21 shut down until further notice. pic.twitter.com/6hUqwmkNUu
— IAFF574 Savannah (@IAFF574) May 2, 2018
Last summer, another C-130 crashed in Mississippi, killing 16 service members. A number of military aviation crashes occurred in March and April, earlier this year, prompting members of Congress to question Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about the significant rise in aviation mishaps during a hearing last month.