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Seven Americans killed in cargo plane crash caught on tape

Plane crash
Posted at 5:30 PM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-02 17:30:00-04

BAGRAM U.S. AIR BASE, Afghanistan (CNN/WTXL) -- Seven American crew members on a 747 cargo plane were killed this week after the plane crashed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

A video posted online reportedly shows the plane falling from the sky seconds after taking off. The crash killed seven American crewmen. The contract company operating the plane, Florida-based National Air Lines confirmed the identities of those killed as being Jamie Brokaw, 33, of Monroe, Michigan; Gary Stockdale, 51; first officer Rinku Summan, 32, of Canton, Michigan; loadmaster Michael Sheelts, 36, of Ypsilanti, Michigan; maintenance crewman Timothy Garrett, 51, of Louisville, Kentucky; and pilots Jeremy Lipka, 37, of Brooklyn, Michigan and Brad Hasler, 34, of Trenton, Michigan.

"If I could trade places with him so that he could be with his family, I would in a heartbeat," said Brad's brother, Bill Hasler.

Brad Hasler was married just two weeks ago, father of one with a second child on the way.

The 747 was bound for Dubai, carrying equipment as part of the U.S. Military drawdown from Afghanistan. The civilian cargo plane was loaded with five MRAPS, each weighing about 27,000 pounds.

"Securing them is absolutely critical for safety," said Steven Wallace, aviation expert.

Wallace is the former Director of the FAA's Accident Investigation Unit. He says there's no forgiveness in a plane's center of gravity.

"It's critical that the total weight be within the limit and that the plane be balance," Wallace said.

The 747 can take off a couple of different ways. When it's carrying passengers it'll take 4 to 5 minutes to reach 15,000 feet. But, in Afghanistan, there's always the danger of being shot out of the sky. So the pilots need to gain as much altitude as possible when they're still over Bagram. A 747 carrying cargo can reach altitude almost two minutes faster.

"The typical concern with a cargo aircraft and that has caused accidents before, is that when the airplane is rotated with the nose up, the cargo moves back if not properly secured," Wallace said.

Cargo is chained down. But, if an attachment point fails, it could shift.

"We don't know what happened here," Wallace said. "That has happened in prior accidents, then the airplane becomes uncontrollable."

It's much harder to have a massive shift of weight on a commercial 747, because the passengers - and the weight - are evenly distributed in chairs.

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