Pilot Error Cited in Fatal C-17 Crash

Pacific Air Forces’ investigation into the July 28 crash of a C-17 near JB Elmendorf, Alaska, has found clear and compelling evidence that “pilot error” caused the mishap that claimed the lives of the four airmen aboard. “The pilot violated regulatory provisions and multiple flight manual procedures, placing the aircraft outside established flight parameters at an attitude and altitude where recovery was not possible” after the aircraft stalled, reads the executive summary of PACAF’s accident investigation board report, released Dec. 10. Lost in the crash were Maj. Michael Freyholtz, Maj. Aaron Malone, Capt. Jeffrey Hill, and MSgt. Thomas Cicardo. These airmen took off that day to practice for an upcoming air show. Their C-17, tail number 00-0173 and call sign Sitka 43, was assigned to Elmendorf’s 3rd Wing. The crash destroyed the aircraft, valued at $184 million, and did damage to a part of the Alaska Railroad. (See also JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam release) (PACAF has also released edited video footage of the Sitka 43 flight. The video is cut off just prior to the aircraft’s impact out of consideration and respect for the families of the deceased.)