What caused military cargo plane crash? Aviation experts weigh in

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"We've confirmed nine people, consisting of five crew members and four additional passengers" were on board, Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Major Paul Dahlen said.

An aging United States military cargo plane carrying nine troops was destroyed in a fiery crash Wednesday as it made its final scheduled flight before being mothballed, officials said.

A spokesman for the Georgia Air National Guard says authorities don't yet know what caused a military cargo plane to crash after taking off from a Savannah, Georgia, airport, killing at least five.

Chatham County Emergency Management Agency tweeted: "There has been a plane crash at the intersection of Hwy 21 at Crossgate Rd".

Roads in the area may be closed for weeks, Bilbo said.

"We're brothers and sisters, we supported one other in these missions, and so no matter who it is, it hurts us whenever something like this happens", Master Sgt. Roger Parsons of the Georgia Air National Guard said at a news conference Wednesday. He says "it nearly looked like it stalled and just went nearly flat right there in the middle of the highway".

The debris field stretched 600 feet (183 metres) in diameter, Effingham County Sheriff's spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.

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An interim safety board will be "securing the scene for as long as it takes to start the process of investigating this to find out what the cause was", Parsons said. Attorney Randy Reep, a longtime jet pilot in the Air National Guard, also pointed out how rare the disaster is for the type of plane.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash, and sent "thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard".

A U.S. military transport aircraft has crashed onto a highway in the southern USA state of Georgia.

"While we are waiting for more information regarding this unfortunate accident, my thoughts and those of Beatriz are with the families of the crew", said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in a press release. The WC-130 is used for weather reconnaissance, it said.

"I could see [the plane] above the tree line and it looked kind of low like it was curving in toward street, but I see them all the time, so I didn't think anything of it", Jones said.

Smoke rises from an airplane crash near Savannah airport, Georgia, U.S., May 2, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media.

The Air Force confirmed there were fatalities but declined to provide a number.

According to the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, flights are arriving and departing with minimal delays.