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Microburst contributed to S.D. air tanker crash


An Air Force C-130 crew’s decision to fly into severe weather while dropping retardant on a South Dakota wildfire in July contributed to the plane’s crash, which killed four crewmembers and injured two others. Air Force officials released the findings of their investigation into the crash this week. The C-130 was following another plane 15 seconds ahead of it that was supposed to communicate retardant drop locations and weather conditions. The lead plane flew into the microburst and avoided hitting the ground by about 10 feet, but did not have a chance to warn the C-130 about the microburst. The tanker was slow on a first retardant drop a few minutes earlier, and investigators said it shouldn’t have attempted the second drop given the weather conditions. But the investigation board credited the tanker’s pilot, who died, with landing the plane slow and nose-up on a forested plateau in a way that apparently provided an escape route for two loadmasters in the back of the plane.