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Honduras Crash-1 Apr 1997


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I'm looking for any info on the 1 Apr 1997 crash at Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This is what I do know: Unit/Pilot/tail #/landed long, fast, & incorrect flap setting/already went around twice/ran off runway killing 3 crew members. I remember going over this accident in AMIC but can't find anything but general articles on the web. It's for a human factors class and would like to have a little more info before I press on with the writing. Thanks in advance for any input you may provide.


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If I'm thinking correctly the bird was from Milwaukee .

Pilot used to be with the 302nd and the unit got rid of him because he was a hotshot pilot.

Short airfield ,overshot approach and ran off of the end of the runway into a gas station .

This was back when Howard AF was still open in Panama. We had just rotated out with WI , a week later it happed.

www.af.mil should have the story in the archives.

Edited by MAXTORQ
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Ok here we go.

Honduras This Week National.

Human error was cited as the principle cause of the accident involving a U.S. Air Force C-130H aircraft at Toncontín International Airport on April 1, according to a U.S. Air Force investigation report released this week to the press.

According to the report, it was the opinion of the investigators that "the majority of the errors [resulting in the accident] were committed by the aircrew." Furthermore, "the aircrew was unfamiliar with the airfield and failed to thoroughly plan the mission and use all available planning aids at their disposal."

The Hercules C-130, which was carrying household goods, a forklift and other cargo from Howard Air Base, Panama, made two attempts to land at Toncontín. On the second attempt, the aircraft failed to stop before the end of the runway, crashed through the perimeter security fence, fell onto the overpass to the El Pedregal district, and burst into flames.

Miraculously, there were no vehicles and pedestrians in the area at the time of the accident, even though it is a busy thoroughfare. However, three of the 10 American servicemen aboard the aircraft were killed in the crash.

Among the specific causes of the accident cited in the report are:

The pilots were unfamiliar with the airport.

* The aircrew did not take full advantage of flight planning aids at their disposal, and did not view a videotape on Toncontín International Airport.

* The pilot maintained a higher than normal approach airspeed, and landed with less than 100 percent flaps at a higher than normal landing speed, "leaving insufficient runway to stop the aircraft."

* Capt. Robert N. Woodard, the aircraft commander, did not have the necessary experience to make "assault landings."

* Supervisory personnel at Howard Air Base "failed to ensure the aircrew had viewed the training video for the airfield."

The report added that no evidence was found to suggest that poor maintenance contributed to the accident.

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As a Crewmember I made numerous , numerous trips into this airport. The crews I flew with ALWAYS watched the tape . The landing was tricky tho. If I remember right the Flaps were up on the downwind and the call was missed for 50% flaps. The pilot was one of those know it alls that come along . Watched the news tape on the internet while the acft was burning.

RZ Hill

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  • 2 weeks later...

The info posted here is incomplete and does not reflect all the findings. It is true about the AC. If I'm not mistaken both pilots were AC qualified. I knew the FE(Lee Munson). He had been at Chicago but transferred when they closed Chicago. He died in the post crash fire as he was unable to evacuate the crash due to a broken neck sustained when the aircraft dropped off the end of the runway.

The aircraft had made two unsuccessful attempts at landing. On the third try they landed long. But the real problem is they did not apply brakes until way too late. By Herk standards this is not a short field and does not require assault procedures. I think it's like 6000(6003?) feet. It does require a modified approach due to a hill on the approach end however. For whatever reason after touchdown the crew did not apply brakes immediately. This delay basically caused the aircraft to run out of the runway required to stop successfully. The CVR showed the cockpit was pretty silent as well. Let that be a lesson...don't let the officers kill you!

More about the AC. For whatever reasons he was having trouble getting his phase 2 complete at LR. They ended up sending him home and MIL was gonna finish his TAC stuff. He had been a F4 backseater. He had trouble at C Springs. Should have been washed out there. But he had a high ranking relative somewhere. Plenty of opportunities to get rid of this guy but as usual he was just pawned off as someone else's problem.

I don't think I ever read why they delayed getting on the brakes immediately after landing. I assumed they must have been thinking of going around thinking they landed too long to stop. But in that time they ate up too much runway so had to try and stop. I wanna say there was like a 10 second delay between touchdown and brake initiation.

I was TDY to Honduras in Sept 1983 and flew out of there for a month. The first time we landed there I had two ACs sitting up front. We missed approach the first attempt but made it on the 2nd attempt. Neither pilot had been there before and both were within like a day or two from becoming non current for landing. We landed long and very HOT. We touched down halfway down the runway and the Doppler showed 163 knots ground speed. The pilot got on the binders and we stopped with no problems. We were all that light either. We had taken off from Howard that early morning at 163,000 lbs. Don't ask me! ;-)

Pat Davis was one of the ACs. Later went to fly U2s. The other one was Jerry Dismang(or whizbang as he was called) I'm sure the Keesler guys(815th) knew of him too.

An interesting side note while there we sat on the civilian side after landing one day waiting for a DC-9(C whatever!) to land. It was actually a US military plane carrying the then SecDef Cap Weinberger. We watched as they too landed long, about mid field. My heart began racing as I thought they might not be able to stop. But they did and taxied over to the military side as well.

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  • 1 month later...


My first into Teguch' the day prior in crew rest planning phase we had to head over to the sim to watch the computer sim (CVR/DFDR) of the mishap. I think it was just about over a year after the crash. Our frag had us into Norfolk (from KDYS) for RON then early wake up for first Belieze, then San Salvador/El Salvador and finally into teguch for the night. Had two other LM's aboard so I sat on the crew bunk for the landing. All very tired and one hell of an approach. It seemed to take forever to get the pallets off - they'd parked us on the "military ramp" (nice collection of old Herks and other aircraft that didn't seem that they were in flying order) The rep' told us all he had was a single forklift for the offload so one pallet at a time the lift made its approx 30min trip to the other side and back. Dang glad I had a 30pak in the cargo door, nice and cold - way better than the local stuff.

I agree - thats one hell of a slope on that runway. Our driver to the hotel showed us where the mishap Herk came to a stop. What I recall from the "prep" video was after the first go around the checklist seemed non-existant - I wonder just how much rest the crew had before making the approach.

My bad for the poor spelling - bloody got to dependent on spell check! LOL!


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  • 1 year later...
  • 11 years later...

Wow just found this post and it brings back some surreal memories. I stationed at the US Military Group Tegucigalpa Honduras 1994-97. I was in my office when the Station  Manager Carlos Ramirez, Honduran civilian, yeld to come outside. The C-130 had made one go around and he was on his 2nd attempt. The station manager had been there 10 years so he had plenty of experience. As we watched Carlos said that his going to runoff the runway. Naively I said that that aircraft was very forgiving and that he’d stop in time. That day changed a lot of lives and to date I still have wandering thoughts of the aftermath of the accident. 

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