All 17 Survive Military Plane Crash Near Dover Air Force Base - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

All 17 Survive Military Plane Crash Near Dover Air Force Base

The cockpit was clearly severed because of the crash. (Photo: WBOC) The cockpit was clearly severed because of the crash. (Photo: WBOC)
Another view of the crash scene. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16) Another view of the crash scene. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16)
Aerial view of the C-5, which crashed Monday at around 6:30 a.m. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16) Aerial view of the C-5, which crashed Monday at around 6:30 a.m. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16)
Close-up shot of the crash scene. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16) Close-up shot of the crash scene. (Photo: WBOC Chopper 16)

Posted 03/03/2006 7:44 AM EST Updated 03/05/2006 9:36 AM EST

DOVER , Del. (WBOC/AP)- A C-5 cargo plane en route to Rota, Spain crashed just short of a runway on Dover Air Force Base early Monday after developing problems during takeoff, military officials said.

All 17 people aboard survived and were in stable or better condition, military authorities said.

The plane, the military's largest, went down at about 6:30 a.m., said Tech Sgt. Melissa Phillips, a base spokeswoman.

A spokesman for Kent General Hospital in Dover, part of BayHealth Medical Center, said it had received about 14 persons from the scene, none with life-threatening injuries, although the spokesman said most of them were covered with jet fuel when they arrived and had to be decontaminated in the parking lot before they were brought inside. On Tuesday, 10 of those 14 had been released from Kent General while the remaining four are still there in stable condition.

Three patients were airlifted to Christiana Care in Newark, hospital spokeswoman Sharon Justice said. As of Tuesday, their conditions were listed as fair.

    The plane belonged to the 436th Airlift Wing, but was being flown by a reserve crew from the 512th Airlift Wing, a reserve unit, said Capt. John Sheets of the Air Mobility Command at Scott
Air Force Base in Illinois. There was one active-duty airman, a flying crew chief, from the 436th on board as part of this "blended crew," he said.

The plane had taken off, developed problems and was returning to the base for an emergency landing when it crashed in a field inside the base just short of the runway, said Lt. Col. Mark Ruse,
Commander of the 436th Air Wing Civil Engineering squadron.

"It looks like it kind of slid along the ground almost like a water landing of sorts," Ruse said.

The plane broke into three pieces, with the cockpit separated from the fuselage and left lying at a right angle to the main part of the plane. The broken-off tail assembly was several hundred
yards away and the left wing was shattered, but there was no evidence of smoke or flames.

Emergency crews including firefighters, medical personnel and security forces - some wearing hazardous materials suits - combed through the wreckage in a light rain under overcast skies. Some
workers were spraying foam on the left wing assembly. One of the engines on that wing was thrown forward by the impact and laying near the nose.

Crews were off-loading the remaining fuel from the plane and all flights from the base were suspended. 

Ruse said it was fortunate the injuries were not more serious. 

"It's a miracle," Ruse said. "When you look at the condition of the plane, that 17 people are still alive right now, its absolutely amazing."

People driving near the runway of Dover Air Force Base say they knew something was wrong when this C-5 started to land at the wrong angle. 

Mike Cowan, an eyewitness to the crash, said, "I saw the plane as the tail came in and hit the ground, the tail flew off the backside of the runway and the front of the nose dropped down and hit. It looked like it did a spin."

Cowan said the nose of the plane was significantly higher than it should have been.

Lisa Barrentine, who lives near the crash site, said she was in bed when she heard a rumbling.

"It was quite a large rumbling, it wasn't quite the rumble you normally hear, it was larger and you could hear the windows shaking," Barrentine said. 

"My husband said he heard the crash. I didn't even hear it because the dogs were barking and they were barking loud." 

Barrentine said the crash occurred about a mile from where she and her husband run a home-based tree service. After the crash, Barrentine said she didn't see any smoke or flames. 

"No, just lots and lots of helicopters," Barrentine sad. 

Planes normally fly over her property, which lies at the southern end of the runway between the base and the nearby Atlantic coast. 

Dover is home to the 436th Airlift Wing, with more than 4,000 active-duty military and civilian employees, and operates the largest and busiest air freight terminal in the Defense Department.
The base is also home to the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, which processes bodies from the nation's wars. 

The C-5 Galaxy cargo plane, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., is one of the largest aircraft in the world, according to the Air Force. It is six-stories tall and can fit six Greyhound buses inside it. It was first delivered to the military in 1970. Even with a payload of 263,200 pounds, the latest version can fly non-stop for 2,500 miles at jet speeds, according to the manufacturer.

A board of officers will convene to investigate the cause of the crash. Base officials say they are looking at a number of issues relating to the crash. They say engine trouble caused the pilot to declare the emergency. The board of officers is also going to look into why the plane did not explode even though it was loaded with fuel.

"The specific reason why it didn't explode or blow up again will come up in the investigation," said Col. Chad Manske, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing. "We don't know why, but by grace it didn't blow up."

This C-5 plane was a modernized model and equipped with upgraded technology in the cockpit and navigation system. 

Air Force officials on Tuesday say their nine upgraded C-5 planes will return to the air sometime next week. The reason the planes are not flying right now is because they do not have any scheduled missions. 


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