On July 28, 2010, at approximately 6:22 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time (UTC-8), the C-17 took off from Runway 06 at Elmendorf Air Force Base to practice manoeuvres for the upcoming Arctic Thunder Air Show.
After the initial climb followed by a left turn, the pilot executed an aggressive right turn. As the aircraft banked, the stall warning system activated to alert the crew of an impending stall.
Instead of implementing stall recovery procedures, the pilot continued the turn and the aircraft entered a stall from which recovery was not possible. The plane crashed and exploded in a fireball about two miles from the airfield.
Anchorage Fire Department Captain Bryan Grella described how a fireball extended to around 750 feet (230 m) into the air, an estimated 2 miles (3.2 km) from Anchorage.
Debris from the crash was spread along 200 feet (61 m) of the Alaska Railroad tracks which carry a passenger and freight trains daily through the base area, north to Wasilla, although no trains were scheduled to be passing through at the time of the crash.
Here is a video of Crash
The crash killed all four crew members aboard: Majors Michael Freyholtz and Aaron Malone, pilots assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron; Captain Jeffrey Hill, a pilot assigned to Elmendorf’s active-duty Air Force’s 517th Airlift Squadron; and Senior Master Sergeant Thomas E. Cicardo, a loadmaster of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron.
Track repairs to the nearby railroad caused freight services to be suspended, and passenger services to be diverted by bus. The air show went ahead as planned as a tribute to the four dead airmen
Pilot Over Confidence Contributes to Fatal C-17 Crash in Alaska: Investigation report
The investigation, directed by General Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, determined the accident was caused by pilot error. “The pilot violated regulatory provisions and multiple flight manual procedures, placing the aircraft outside established flight parameters at an attitude and altitude where recovery was not possible.
The investigation found that, in addition to the pilot errors, the co-pilot and safety observer did not realize the developing dangerous situation and did not make appropriate inputs. In addition to multiple procedural errors, the board determined that the crew of the flight deck ignored caution and warnings and failed to respond to the various challenge and reply items. All four aircrew members died instantly.
“Channelized attention, overconfidence, expectancy, misplaced motivation, procedural guidance and program oversight substantially contributed to the mishap” The board stated.
As noted by several aviation commentators, the crash presented significant similarities with the 1994 crash of a B-52 bomber at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Here are details of the Incident
On both occasions, the local USAF unit’s chain of command apparently failed to prevent the pilots involved from developing deliberately unsafe flying practices for aerial displays of large aircraft