SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Isabelo Rivera, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, says the cargo plane that crashed in Georgia was more than 60 years old and was making its final flight into retirement in Arizona.
He says the C-130 plane had been used in the past to rescue U.S. citizens stranded in the British Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma and ferry supplies to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year.
He told a news conference Wednesday in Puerto Rico that the island Guard force has five other similar planes, two of which are not in use because they require maintenance.
Authorities say it’s too early to say what might have caused Wednesday’s crash on a highway on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia.
Military officials say the C130 and its variants historically have good safety records and a crash is considered a rare occurrence.
The most recent accident before Wednesday’s deadly crash in Georgia happened July 10 when a Marine Corps KC130T transport plane crashed in Mississippi, killing 15 Marines and a Navy sailor when it slammed into a soybean field near Itta Bena. Officials have yet to release any reports that say why that plane crashed. It took more than two weeks for the military to collect pieces of the plane from a debris field stretching for several miles (kilometers).
The Navy classifies its most serious incidents as Class A mishaps, involving death, permanent disability or more than $2 million in damage. Records show only two in-flight Class A mishaps were recorded before the Mississippi crash, both in 2002. A KC-130R experienced a flash fire and crashed into a mountain in Pakistan while nearing an airfield, killing seven people. A KC130F crash landed shortly after taking off in California, causing injuries but no deaths.