Military plane that crashed was on its way to be decommissioned

SAVANNAH, GA. — The military is investigating why an aging cargo plane making its final military flight nosedived into a Georgia highway on Wednesday, killing all nine people on board.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard WC-130 was flying from Savannah, Georgia, to Tucson, Arizona, where it was to be decommissioned. The plane involved in Wednesday’s crash was at least 50 years old, according to an official familiar with the aircraft.

“Nine crew members died in the accident, but until their families and relatives are notified, we cannot give their names,” said Brigadier General Isabelo Rivera, the assistant general of Puerto Rico.

All were from Puerto Rico, officials said.

The investigation, which is underway, is being carried out by the National Guard Bureau and the Air Force, he said. The National Transportation Safety Board will not be involved, according to a statement from the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.

The crash occurred moments after takeoff near Hilton Head Airport in Savannah, Georgia, Rivera said.

There were no injuries on the ground.

“We don’t know the cause of the crash,” said Maj. Paul Dahlen.

The plane from the 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico had been in Savannah for “a number of days” undergoing routine maintenance before heading to the Aerospace Regeneration and Maintenance Group in Arizona, he said. AMARG, also known as “The Boneyard,” is an Arizona facility where the military keeps thousands of aircraft as well as spacecraft.

State Highway 21 will remain closed indefinitely as investigators examine the crash site and debris field, according to Chatham County.

The next briefing is expected Thursday 8:30 a.m. ET.