50-year-old National Guard plane was on final flight before crash

May 3 (UPI) — The Puerto Rico Air National Guard plane that crashed in eastern Georgia, killing all 9 aboard, was headed to Arizona on its final flight before decommissioning, authorities said.

The cargo plane, part of the Puerto Rico Guard’s 156th Airlift Wing, went down shortly after takeoff from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

“To our knowledge there are no survivors,” Effingham County, Ga., Sheriff spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.

Maj. Paul Dahlen, a Puerto Rico Air National Guard spokesman, said the WC-130 had been used for weather reconnaissance missions and was more than 50 years old. He added it was on its final flight to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for long-term storage.

Dahlen said the aircraft had undergone routine maintenance just before leaving Savannah.

Video footage from a nearby business showed the jet plummet, followed by a fireball and thick black smoke.

“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. “It affects all of us.”

Officials said all the crew members were from Puerto Rico.

Brig. Gen. Isabelo Rivera, assistant general of Puerto Rico, said names are being withheld pending family notification.

“I have been briefed on the U.S. C-130 ‘Hercules’ cargo plane from the Puerto Rico National Guard that crashed near Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. Please join me in thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday.

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