Night Vision Goggle Case Caused Fatal C-130 Crash

A misplaced night vision goggle case led to the C-130J crash that killed 14 at Jalalabad Airport, Afghanistan, in October, Air Mobility Command investigators found. After landing at Jalalabad, the crew conducted engine-running on-load/offload operations. To assist with offloading, the Super Hercules’ pilot placed the hard-shell case in front of the yoke to hold the horizontal stabilizer elevators in a raised position, but did not remove it before the nighttime takeoff, according to a release announcing the findings Friday. The aircraft entered an excessive upward pitch just after takeoff, and the copilot misidentified a trim malfunction as the cause, resulting in improper recovery techniques. The aircraft crashed just off the runway 28 seconds after liftoff and struck a perimeter guard tower, killing all personnel aboard and three Afghan Special Reaction Force (ASRF) members on the ground. The crew consisted of the pilot, copilot, and two loadmasters assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron at Dyess AFB, Texas. Two fly-away security team members assigned to the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom AFB, Mass., and five civilian contractor passengers were also onboard. (Read the full accident investigation report.)