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No evidence of inflight emergency found in C-130 crash

C-130 wreckage

August 19, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming (CNN) -- The Air Force announced Monday that no evidence of an in-flight mechanical emergency was found when the investigators examined the flight data and cockpit voice recorders of the C-130 cargo plane that crashed into a Wyoming mountain Sunday , killing all nine persons on board.

But Air Force Col. Steve Emory said investigators had no evidence so far that the pilot of the plane had radioed mechanical trouble before hitting the side of Sleeping Indian Mountain, also known as Sheep Mountain, and bursting into flames.

"We do not have any evidence at this point that there was a call like that," Emory said at a news briefing. (320K AIFF or WAV sound)icon

Jackson Hole map

President Clinton said Sunday afternoon that he was told the pilot was attempting to return to the airport when it crashed. Emory said investigators were trying to determine where the White House got that information.

The C-130, assigned to President Clinton's vacation entourage in the Grand Tetons, smashed into the mountain shortly after takeoff, killing all nine people aboard.

The plane was en route to New York's JFK International Airport carrying luggage and other items associated with the Clintons' trip.

Air Force officials said that while Jackson Hole airport requires a steep ascent to clear the nearby mountains, it had been certified by the Air Mobility Command as suitable for C-130 cargo planes.

No special training is required for Air Force pilots flying into Jackson Hole, they said, because C-130 pilots are routinely trained to fly in and out of the most rugged airfields.

Steve Emory

Emory said a disaster response team from Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, was dispatched to secure the remote crash site just 200 meters below the top of the mountain.

Debris from the aircraft covers an area about 500 meters long by 300 meters wide, Emory said. Much of the aircraft disintegrated, but the plane's tail section, which contained the two so-called "black box" recorders, was largely intact.

"It appears that the aircraft impacted the mountain at a slight grazing angle going uphill," he said.

The crash site is inaccessible by road vehicle. Crews first reached the area by horseback several hours after the crash. Helicopters will be the primary mode of transportation for the remainder of the investigation.

Emory said that crews have not yet removed any remains or parts of the aircraft from the site.

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