USAF C-21A accident in Decatur, IL 3 OCT 2006

Military aircraft accidents/mishaps.
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Unread post03 Oct 2006, 20:33

Air Force training jet crashes at Decatur Airport

DECATUR - Mike Copsy thought an airplane was flying awfully low about midday Monday.

The motorist, who lives in rural Charleston, looked to see if the plane landed safely at Decatur Airport, and he saw smoke.

Firetrucks soon arrived three-tenths of a mile from the end of the runway to knock down a blaze.

"The engines (of the plane) were still going when they were hosing it down," he said.

Two crew members walked away from a crash of a small military trainer jet, said airport director Gene Marcinkowski.

One person suffered a broken ankle, and the other was uninjured, Marcinkowski said.

The jet, an Air Force Flight Standards Agency C-21, was based out of Will Rogers Air Guard Station in Oklahoma City, OK, according to a news release from the Air Force 375th Airlift Wing. The aircraft was performing touch-and-go landing training at the airport.

A board of officers will investigate the crash, the release stated.

Marcinkowski said he had no other details about the crash.

"Everybody saw it happen, and they responded," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to happen. And people did walk away, that's the best part."

Marcinkowski credited rapid response from several groups, including Decatur Airport fire units and firefighters from Decatur and Mount Zion. Civilian and military emergency crews also responded to the scene.

"The fire was put out; it was a pretty decent fire," Marcinkowski said. "I was really pleased with the fire response all around from all the units, particularly airport units who were Johnny-on-the-spot."

The airport was locked down by local law enforcement temporarily, but Marcinkowski said it was reopened by early afternoon.

It's not unusual for military groups to do exercises at the airport, including landing, taking off and flying around the facility, he said.

Damage to the airport was minimal.

"It is amazing," Marcinkowski said. "I would say there is zero damage out there, lights included. They kind of slid through everything. That's the design of an airport, where they can slide and be as much intact as they can without rolling or tumbling."

Several curious onlookers came to nearby country roads, and several brought binoculars to get a good look at the efforts of emergency responders.

Alicia Spates can be reached at aspates@ or 421-6986. Mike Frazier can be reached at mfrazier@ or 421-7985.

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