A training flight which was transporting marine personnel and equipment from North Carolina to California crashed Tuesday morning, killing fifteen marines and a Navy corpsman.
The crash occurred in the Mississippi Delta, approximately 85 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi, with debris reportedly landing on both sides of US 82. . The plane was a New York-based KC-130T which can be used for mid-air refueling of other planes, and is also used for cargo transports by the military.
The plane disappeared from radar, at which time the Federal Aviation Administration contacted the marines.
So far, names of deceased and their base-locations have not been released. CNN reports that the plane belonged to a Marine Forces Reserve squadron tasked with refueling and transport, which was normally based in Newburgh, New York at the Stewart Air National Guard Base. It took off from the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, in the eastern part of the state. It was bound for California’s Naval Air Facility El Centro, approximately 100 miles east of San Diego. This type of squadron can have both active-duty members and reservists, and the status of each of the dead is not yet known.
An explosives disposal team was deployed to the crash site for precaution’s sake, according to the official report, because the plane carried small-arms ammo and personal weapons. The image of the crash site shows dark smoke billowing into the air from an empty field.
Witnesses reported that the plane spiraled toward the ground, nose first and appeared to be emitting white smoke from at least one engine as it plummeted. One witness, who called 911, stated that he heard a loud bang from a nearby field before seeing the plane nosedive; a line of trees obscured his view of the actual crash.
CNN reported that a similar crash in 2015 was determined to be caused by a misplaced box of night-vision goggles, placed temporarily in the cockpit while the cargo plane was being loaded. The box got in the way when the pilot needed to correct the pitch of the aircraft’s nose, which was moving too far upward; that crash killed 14 people.