|Date||28 July 2010|
|Summary||Low-altitude stall due to pilot error|
|Site||Near Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, U.S. |
|Aircraft type||Boeing C-17 Globemaster III|
|Aircraft name||Spirit of the Aleutians|
|Operator||United States Air Force|
|Flight origin||Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, U.S.|
On 28 July 2010, a C-17 Globemaster III transport plane of the U.S. Air Force crashed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, while practicing for a flight display at the upcoming Arctic Thunder Air Show. All four crew members on board were killed. It was the first fatal accident of a C-17 aircraft.
On 28 July 2010, the crew was conducting a local training flight in preparation for the upcoming Arctic Thunder Air Show, to be held at the Elmendorf base from 31 July to 1 August. The C-17 is commonly featured in US air shows, highlighting its short takeoff and landing capability. The plane had flown earlier that day with a different crew.
At approximately 6:22 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time (UTC-8), the C-17 took off from Runway 06 at Elmendorf Air Force Base to practice the display routine. After the initial climb followed by a left turn, the pilot executed a sharp right turn.
As the aircraft banked, the stall warning system activated to alert the crew of an impending stall. Instead of implementing stall recovery procedures, the pilot continued the turn and the aircraft entered a stall from which recovery was not possible. The plane crashed and exploded in a fireball about two miles from the airfield.
The aircraft was a four-engined C-17 Globemaster III built by Boeing. It belonged to the 3rd Wing (3 WG) and operated jointly with the 176th Wing (176 WG) at Elmendorf AFB, located near downtown Anchorage. The aircraft had Air Force serial number "00-0173" and was named Spirit of the Aleutians.
The U.S. Air Force has 222 C-17s in service with the active Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, with the type being based at Elmendorf since June 2007. At the time of the crash, the base had eight of the aircraft, operated jointly by an active duty Air Force organization, the 3rd Wing's 517th Airlift Squadron; and an Alaska Air National Guard unit, the 176th Wing's 249th Airlift Squadron. The mishap was the first fatal crash of a C-17.
The four crew members on board all died; they were Majors Michael Freyholtz and Aaron Malone, pilots assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron; Captain Jeffrey Hill, a pilot assigned to Elmendorf's active-duty Air Force's 517th Airlift Squadron; and Senior Master Sergeant Thomas E. Cicardo, a loadmaster of the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron.
A member of the Anchorage Fire Department described how a fireball extended to around 750 feet (230 m) into the air, an estimated 2 miles (3.2��km) from Anchorage. Debris from the crash was spread along 200 feet (61 m) of the Alaska Railroad tracks which carry passenger and freight trains daily through the base area, north to Wasilla, although no trains were scheduled to be passing through at the time of the crash.
Track repairs to the nearby railroad caused freight services to be suspended, and passenger services to be diverted by bus. The air show went ahead as planned as a tribute to the four dead airmen.
The investigation report into the crash was released on 13 December 2010. It blamed pilot error, stating that the pilot's overconfidence in executing an aggressive right-turn maneuver led to a low-altitude stall and subsequent crash, despite the warnings correctly provided by the aircraft's stall-warning system, to which neither the pilot nor any other crew member responded effectively.
The accident displayed significant similarities with the 1994 crash of a B-52 bomber at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. On both occasions, the local USAF unit's chain of command apparently failed to prevent the pilots involved from developing deliberately unsafe flying practices for aerial displays of large aircraft.
- 1994 Fairchild Air Force Base B-52 crash
- 1995 Alaska Boeing E-3 Sentry accident
- List of airshow accidents and incidents
- "Pilot error blamed in July C-17 crash". Anchorage Daily News. 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- "Arctic Thunder to continue after 4 died". Anchorage Daily News. 1 August 2010. Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- USAF Aircraft Accident Investigation Board Report for Incident of 28 July 2010 Archived 4 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "Officials Release The Identities of the Four Killed in C-17 Crash in Alaska". Q13 Fox (KCPQ). 30 July 2010. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- Executive Summary, Aircraft Accident Investigation, C-17A, T/N 00-0173, Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, AK, 28 July 2010
- Stephen Trimble (17 December 2010). "C-17 crash report exposes cracks in USAF safety culture". Flightglobal. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Bill Sweetman (13 December 2010). "Pilot Error in C-17 Crash". Aviation Week. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Archived from the original on 21 March 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Rob Stapleton (17 December 2010). "Report cites oversight and pilot error for Alaska C-17 crash". Examiner.com. Clarity Digital Group. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2010 Alaska C-17 crash.|
- "Air Force officials release findings on Alaska C-17 fatal mishap". AF.mil. U.S. Air Force. 11 December 2010.