A huge military cargo plane developed problems after takeoff and crashed attempting to return to Dover Air Force Base on Monday, breaking apart short of the runway, officials said. All 17 people aboard survived, though several were injured.
The C-5 Galaxy, the military's largest plane, broke in two just behind the cockpit, leaving the cockpit at a right angle to the fuselage. The tail assembly ended up several hundred yards from the plane, and one of the engines was thrown forward by the impact, but there was no evidence of fire.
Fourteen people from the plane were taken to Kent General Hospital in Dover, none with life threatening injuries, officials said. Three others were taken to Christiana Care in Newark, said hospital spokeswoman Sharon Justice.
The C-5 was being flown by a reserve crew from the 512th Airlift Wing, said Capt. John Sheets of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
According to initial reports, the plane had just taken off and had some indications of a problem, said Col. Ellen Haddock, spokeswoman at the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff. It turned back to land and fell short of the runway, she said. It wasn't immediately clear if the plane was carrying cargo when it went down.
Emergency crews, some in hazardous materials suits, examined the wreckage Monday morning in light rain and under overcast skies.
Lisa Barrentine, who lives near the crash site, said she was in bed when she heard a rumbling.
"You could hear the windows shaking," Barrentine said. She said planes normally fly over her property, which lies at the southern end of the runway between the base and the Atlantic coast.
The C-5 Galaxy, made by Lockheed, is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It was first delivered to the military in 1970. Even with a payload of 263,200 pounds, the latest version can fly non-stop for 2,500 miles at jet speeds, according to Lockheed Martin Corp.
Dover is home to the 436th Airlift Wing, with more than 4,000 active-duty military and civilian employees, and operates the largest and busiest air freight terminal in the Defense Department. The base is also home to the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, which processes bodies from the nation's wars.
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