Savannah – I wasn’t in Savannah or awake to hear any of the communications surrounding the Puerto Rico Air National Guard 156th Airlift Wing WC-130 that crashed earlier this week, but still thought I needed to write up some sort of post about it. Before I go any further, my condolences go out to the family, friends, and fellow servicemembers of the aircraft’s crew. After all that Puerto Rico has gone through in the last year and all that ANG has done to serve and support the people of Puerto Rico, it’s terribly sad to lose them this way.
WC-130H 65-0968 crashed on 2 May 2018 shortly after departing from Savannah International Airport. It crashed onto Georgia Highway 21 in Port Wentworth; news reports and the location of the crash near the approach end of Runway 28 indicate that the crew was trying to get the aircraft back to Savannah IAP after experiencing some sort of problem on or after takeoff. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it back; 65-0968 spiraled into the highway before they could make it back and sadly all nine of the crew aboard perished. The crew was able to keep the aircraft from crashing into any homes or businesses in the area and by the grace of God, there was no traffic on Highway 21 under 65-0968 when it crashed. Emergency response from the Air National Guard 165th Airlift Wing Crash/Fire units at Savannah International Airport quickly responded as did surrounding Fire Departments and Ambulance Services. Air National Guard personnel from the 165th AW and USAF personnel from Charleston AFB and Dover AFB are on scene conducting recovery and investigation operations. Interestingly enough, 65-0968 used to be a 165th AW aircraft prior to its assignment to the 156th AW in Puerto Rico.
Georgia Highway 21 remains closed between the Jimmy Deloach Parkway and Georgia Highway 307 and will remain so for quite awhile. The investigation will have to be completed then the remains of the aircraft removed and the area cleaned up. Then Georgia DOT will have to inspect the roadway and complete any repairs needed. DOT has set up a detour using the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway between Highway 21 and Highway 307 to re-route traffic.
This tragedy has an amateur radio connection as well. The ARRL reported that Master Sgt. Eric Circuns was amateur radio operator WP4OXB.