3 airmen dead after Cannon Air Force Base aircraft crashes

Three crew members died after a Cannon Air Force Base aircraft crashed Tuesday night.

CLOVIS, N.M. (KVII) - Colonel Benjamin R. Maitre, spokesperson for the Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, announced Wednesday morning the three airmen on board a U-28A died when the aircraft crashed Tuesday night.


Cannon Air force base officials tell ABC 7 News it's been several years since their last aircraft involved fatality.

They said their airmen fly thousands of hours every year on the U-28A aircraft in order to maintain their skills.

Officials said the aircraft crashed in a field around 7 p.m. Tuesday during a training mission.

The crash killed the three-member crew inside.

"The training sortie was a local profile in which our air crews take the aircraft for several hours, operate here in Eastern New Mexico or West Texas and that could involve anything from tactical scenarios or pilot proficiency training," said Cannon Air Force Base spokesperson Colonel Benjamin R. Maitre.

Texico resident Suzahn Horton lives less than a mile away from the crash site.

She said she was walking with friends when she saw the tragic event happen.

"Out of our peripheral vision, we see the plane coming down and it looks like it's going to not end well and when it comes in, he got it pulled up and they pulled it up and it looked like he was going to recover and then it kind of dipped and it was down again," said Horton.

She tells ABC 7 it's something she never thought would happen.

"The guys are very well-trained and I mean, being this close to just the Clovis airport, we're just used to planes coming around all the time and military aircraft use it quite a bit also so the first few seconds of you just taking it in that you just watched it go down, it was shocking," said Horton.

While the Cannon Air Force Base investigation continues into what caused the crash, base members and community members said they're are all affected by the loss of life.

"We at Cannon Air Force Base are a tight-knit installation and wing focused on getting the mission done and obviously any type of incident any time an incident like this occurs, it hits us hard," said Maitre.

"Everybody here supports Cannon. I mean, our military personnel are very important, so anytime there's something like that, it's felt throughout the community, not just Cannon and we pray for those service people," said Horton.

Officials said the names of the airmen killed will not be released until 24 hours after the next of kin are notified.

ORIGINAL: The plane crashed during what the base described as a "training sortie" around 6:50 p.m. Tuesday in a field about a quarter-mile east of the Clovis Municipal Airport. All three crew members were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron and died in the crash.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family,” said Maitre, the installation commander. “Our sympathies are with the loved ones and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”

The crash caused a fire, which was extinguished by local first responders by about 7:40 p.m.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. CAFB officials said they would not release the names of those who died until 24 hours after next of kin had been notified.

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