USAF Reviews Civilian Deaths Linked To C-17 Flight From Kabul

A Boeing C-17 lands at the Kabul airport in 2011.
Credit: U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is reviewing the circumstances of a Boeing C-17 takeoff in Afghanistan that resulted in several deaths of civilians who rushed the aircraft, an Air Force spokeswoman said Aug. 17.

Online videos showed several people falling from the C-17 on departure, and human remains were found in a wheel well after the transport landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

“OSI is leading the review in coordination with the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and international partners since it involves the loss of life on U.S. military aircraft,” an Air Force spokeswoman said.

The aircraft has been impounded pending an inspection and collection of the human remains.

The investigation will seek to inform the safety of future flights in the ongoing evacuation mission in Afghanistan, the spokeswoman said.

The C-17 landed at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15 to deliver equipment related to the evacuation of Afghan and U.S. civilians after the Taliban seized control of the government.

“Before the aircrew could offload the cargo, the aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport perimeter,” the spokeswoman said. “Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible.”

The sudden capture of Kabul by the Taliban and the country’s landlocked isolation has triggered a massive airlift operation involving dozens of C-17s and KC-135 tankers.

By Aug. 18, the Defense Department expects to be able to establish flights of military airlifters from Kabul on an hourly basis, delivering thousands of U.S. and Afghan civilians seeking refuge from the Taliban.

Other C-17 flights this week have carried thousands of civilians out of Kabul, including about 640 on one flight alone, crowded on the cargo floor of the widebody freighter.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


that air crew should receive a commendation for saving over 80 people. Sad that some died trying to hang on to the outside, but not the crews fault by any measure.
Brings recollections of the last 727 leaving Saigon airport with civilians having rushed the plane in the same way. The photo showed civilians hanging onto the landing gear and standing up in the wheel well. The crew left the gear down and flew under 10,000 ft to Laos
I fear that our incompetent, woke, politically correct military leadership will go after the aircrew. Rather than medals, deserved, they will face court martials. The crew of the jet with 640 souls on board will also be disciplined for not having everyone strapped in with seatbelts.

On the other hand, the generals who went along with the closure of a secure military airfield and combat base at Bagram to effect orderly evacuation will probably be rewarded.
Danang, not Saigon.
The World Airways 727 mentioned by DAVEINGEB departed from Da Nang (not Saigon) and landed in Saigon (not Laos).
Also roughly 1/3 the distance. :45 in an open wheel well is a long time, let alone 2:30...