ATLANTA — A crew of nine Puerto Ricans were flying an Air National Guard C-130 into retirement in Arizona when it crashed onto a highway in Savannah on Wednesday, and authorities said there are no survivors.
The plane crashed onto state Highway 21 moments after taking off from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, narrowly missing people on the ground and sending an orange and black fireball into the sky.
Officials said the U.S. C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane was more than 60 years old and belonged to the 156th Air Wing.
The massive plane was used to rescue U.S. citizens stranded in the British Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma and to ferry supplies to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year.
The plane last received maintenance at the base in Savannah in April.
The C130 Hercules is made by Lockheed Martin.
Production of the massive planes began as the United States entered into the Korean War. Lockheed Martin said on its website that the Air Force realized it had no type of military transport "capable of airlifting combat troops over medium distances and delivering them to short, austere airfields."
So, the Air Force issued a directive to begin production on a new medium cargo plane.
Lockheed Martin, then known as the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, won the contract to produce two prototypes in July 1951.
The prototypes were a success, and shortly after, the entire C-130 program was moved to the then-known Lockheed-Georgia Company in Marietta.
"The first production C-130A, which was nearly identical to the prototypes, was flown for the first time at Marietta, Ga., on April 7, 1955," Lockheed said on their website. "The C-130 continues to be the world's standard for tactical airlift needs, especially in the form of the C-130J Super Hercules. The Super Hercules offers superior performance and new capabilities, with the range and flexibility for every theater of operations and evolving requirements. To date, 16 countries operate or will operate the C-130J, which has been used to set 54 world aviation records."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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