Night vision goggle case blamed for deadly cargo plane crash in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John Rasch, 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, waits for cargo to be loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 2, 2012, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 772nd EAS provides tactical airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation, creating an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies. Rasch's hometown is Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

A night vision goggle case is reportedly to blame for causing the crash of a C-130J cargo plane that killed 14 people in Afghanistan last October.

On October 2, the four-engine transport plane travelled from Bagram Airfield to Jalalabad Airport, where the crew was offloading cargo. While on the runway, the pilot “raised the wing elevators on the rear stabilizer to provide additional overhead clearance for the cargo being unloaded from the rear of the plane.”

The pilot then used the night-vision goggle case to hold the elevators in place, so that he wouldn’t have to manually hold the elevators’ controls, according to the Washington Post.

Because the flight back to Bagram was at night, the goggles were being used and the case was never removed. It was left in front of the cockpit yoke, which is used to steer the plane during flight, CNN reported.

The Air Force investigation revealed that “During the first seconds of takeoff, the plane’s nose started to pitch up too far, so the pilot tried to adjust by moving the yoke forward. But the goggles case blocked the yoke.”

The investigative report released on Friday said the pilot “misidentified the ensuing flight control problem, resulting in improper recovery techniques by both the pilot and the co-pilot. The plane’s nose pitched upward too fast, leading to a stall and a crash.”

The plane crashed 28 seconds after takeoff –killing all 11 people on board –as well as three Afghan guards who were on the ground in a guard tower that was hit.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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