CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Cannon Air Force base is dealing with a tragedy. Three airmen were killed in a plane crash during a training exercise Tuesday evening.
“Obviously, any time an incident like this occurs it hits us hard,” Col. Ben Maitre said Wednesday morning.
Cannon Air Force Base officials say all three airmen on board a U-28A for a training exercise died when they crashed about a quarter mile from Clovis Municipal Airport.
Base officials say there were no red flags in the plane’s history.
“Right now, we have no indication of a preexisting condition prior to the crash occurring,” Col Maitre said.
An investigation into what happened is ongoing.
Wednesday morning, Col. Maitre explained they are not releasing the airmen’s names until 24 hours after their families are notified.
“Our focus right now is taking care of our loved ones, friends and our larger air commando family,” Col. Maitre said.
He added their air crews are well trained and planes are well maintained.
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the single-engine U-28A is used for tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in special operations forces. It holds three to four people.
“The U-28 aircraft is a reliable safely performing airplane that we fly thousands of hours on and every year our air crews fly hundreds of hours to maintain their currency and proficiency,” Col. Maitre said.
Officials say the three airmen killed were part of the 318th Special Operations Squadron.
Wednesday morning, flying operations resumed on base, except for the 318th Squadron as it deals with the loss of its crew members.
Officials also expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of support they have received.
They said they have not had a fatal incident like this one in quite some time.
Colonel Ben Maitre released the following statement after the crash:
We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family…Our sympathies are with the loved ones and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time. – Col. Ben Maitre