Air Force, Guard Investigating C-17 Crash

ol. Jack McMullen (left), Commander of the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf, and Brig. Gen. Chuck Foster (right), Commander of the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard, speak to reporters on Thursday.

Photo by Patrick Yack, APRN – Anchorage

Story by Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

The investigation into yesterday evening’s fiery crash of a C-17 at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage is now in its beginning stages. Meanwhile, notification of the next of kin of the four airmen killed continues.

This morning Colonel Jack McMullen, the Air Force’s 3rd Wing commander updated the press on the investigation.

“Emergency crews have worked through the night to secure the site. That work is going to continue today We’ve got an interim safety team that’s standing up that’s going to be out there secure data, to secure information and to preserve the site. We’ve got another safety team that’s going to come in that should be in within the next 24 hours which will start an official safety investigation to try to determine the cause of the accident.”

According to McMullen, next-of-kin are still being notified and the names will not likely be released until tomorrow. He added that friends are already with local family members.

Brigadier General Chuck Foster of the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard said that concern goes beyond family members.

“Also those squadron mates. Of course we tell them what we know when we know it and help them work through the grieving process especially in the air national guard, but certainly true in the active duty air force. We work together for years and we’ve become quite close. And we bring the resources, chaplains, counselors, also to that squadron.

The C-17 crew consisted of three members of the Alaska Air National Guard and one on-duty Air Force person. Neither officer knew who was at the controls of the plane when it crashed moments after take-off a little after 6 o’clock Wednesday evening.

The plane was part of the 3rd Wing and was about to perform a training demonstration for this weekend’s scheduled air show. McMullen said the plane had been flown earlier that day, but not by that crew. He did not know how many Wednesday flights the plane had done.

The large, four engine cargo plane has a good safety record and often appears in air shows such as the one scheduled for this weekend. As of this morning, the McMullen said the fate of the popular annual air show remains uncertain.

“What’s best for the wing, what’s best for the community is kind of what we’re looking at to try and do the right thing. Obviously this is a huge tragedy. But at some point we’re going to need to get up. We’re going to need to press on and move forward. And so that’s what we’re thinking through as we go through this.”

The two officers said the air force would notify the public as soon as reach a decision concerning the air show.

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