Weather may have played role in horrifying Bagram Airfield Crash

A 747 U.S. cargo plane crashed on its ascent from Bagram, Afghanistan Monday, killing all 7 American crew members aboard. The exact cause of the crash is not known, but thunderstorms were in the area.

The plane, in route to Dubai (United Arab Emirates), was carrying 5 military vehicles according to the Aviation Herald.

The Aviation Herald describes the sequence of events leading up to the crash:

Several observers on the ground reported the National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 had just lifted off and was climbing through approximately 1200 feet when it’s nose sharply rose, the aircraft appeared to have stalled and came down erupting in a blaze.

METARS – weather reports intended primarily for aviation purposes – show a nearby thunderstorm and swirling winds coincided with the takeoff. From Aviation-Safety.net:

A thunderstorm with Cumulonimbus clouds was approaching the air base at the time of the accident. A weather report shows winds began shifting from 100 degrees [from the east] at 09:55 UTC to 350 degrees [from the north] at 10:55 UTC. Accident time was about 15:00 LT / 10:30 UTC

“One army spokesperson said the crash occurred due to low altitude after takeoff,” reports Business Insider, which quotes a pilot who says a cargo shift may have contributed. Whether it was the weather, loose cargo, and/or other factors that prevented the plane from gaining altitude will presumably be determined in crash assessments.

Below is a terrifying video of the crash obtained from a car’s dashboard camera. C

Caution: it is very disturbing footage which may upset some viewers. Also, it contains an expletive around 1 minute and 13 seconds into the video.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · April 30, 2013

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