National Air Cargo has released a statement:

Statement from National Air Cargo
May 1, 2013

National Air Cargo will not speculate as to the cause of the accident involving National Flight NCR102. With our full cooperation, an investigation by appropriate authorities is under way, and we encourage everyone to join us in respecting that process and allowing it to take its appropriate course.

Here are some facts regarding the aircraft and its movements prior to the accident:

  • National Flight NCR102 was en route to Dubai from Camp Bastian and had stopped to refuel at Bagram Air Base.
  • The cargo contained within the aircraft was properly loaded and secured, and had passed all necessary inspections prior to departing Camp Bastian.
  • The aircraft landed safely and uneventfully in Bagram.
  • No additional cargo or personnel was added during the stop in Bagram, and the aircraft’s cargo was again inspected prior to departure.


April 29 A National Air Cargo 747-400 freighter, N949CA, crashed at around 3pm Monday, following take-off from the US air base in Bagram, Afghanistan. All seven crew members died, following a severe fire which broke out when the aircraft, flight NCR102, hit the ground. All were US citizens.

“This is a devastating loss for our family and we’ll work diligently with authorities to find the cause,” National Airlines president Glen Joerger said in a statement.

“Our focus at this time is on the family members of those we’ve lost, and on assisting the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority in their investigations.”

Although the Taliban claims to have brought down the aircraft, according to an eyewitness, (see comments below) the aircraft stalled on take-off, the nose went vertical and it ‘came straight back down’. Afghan authorities have denied enemy involvement.

The aircraft was said to be carrying military equipment bound for Dubai.

The National Airlines Family Information Call Center has been activated to support any family members requiring information – the number is 888-705-7560.

The website LiveLeak claims to have footage, filmed from a bus. The link is here – but it is distressing, so please be warned. There is apparently a list of crew members in the comments section here – please note – we have not verified this information.


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  • Steven J Koehler

    April 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and former co-workers at this time. God bless you all and bring you comfort as this unfolds.

    • Nalliah Thayabharan

      May 01, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      The cargo flight N8-102 crew were heard on VHF air-band frequency reporting that some of the load of five heavy military vehicles weighing more than 70 tons in the cargo hold had shifted and the 20 year old National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 stalled. National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 crashed and erupted into flames on impact. The crash site was near the end of the only runway (11,849 ft long runway 03) within the perimeter of the Bagram airfield. All seven crew – Jamie Brokaw, pilot, Monroe, MI; Brad Hasler, pilot, Trenton, MI; Jeremy Lipka, pilot, Brooklyn, MI; Rinku Summan, pilot, Canton, MI; Michael Sheets, loadmaster, Ypsilanti, MI; Gary Stockdale, mechanic, Romulus, MI; Timothy Garrett, mechanic, Louisville, KY were killed on impact.
      There are many things that could have happened to cause the high nose pitch. Cargo shift is a high probability. Center of gravity on an aircraft is very important, especially on cargo planes. From the video it seems that the cargo load got loose and shifted back and caused the rapid nose high pitch. It´s a very deep stall because the aircraft seem to be almost vertical in the rolling.There are many things that could go wrong. If it was palletized, a lock could have failed. A chain holding the vehicle might of been weak and broke. Or a tiedown could have failed.
      The loadmaster performs the calculations and plans cargo placement to keep the aircraft within permissible center of gravity limits throughout the flight. Loadmasters ensure cargo is placed on the aircraft in such a way as to prevent overloading sensitive sections of the airframe and cargo floor.
      The loadmaster primarily supervises loading crews and procedures. Once positioned aboard the aircraft, the loadmaster ensures the cargo is secured against movement. Chains, straps, and integrated cargo locks are among the most common tools used to secure the cargo. Because cargo may shift during abrupt maneuvers, the loadmaster must determine the appropriate amount and placement of cargo restraint.
      Similarly August 11, 1997, a Fine Air DC-8 aircraft loaded with 45 tons of fabric, departed Miami International airport, just moments into its flight the DC-8 came tumbling down killing 5 people. The DC-8 upon takeoff became tail heavy, stalled and then crashed in a shopping area just several hundred feet from the runway. Investigators have recovered several cargo latches from the DC-8 and it has been reported that only one of the latches was in the locked position , indicating that the cargo on the DC-8 upon takeoff had shifted to the tail off the aircraft making it tail heavy producing an uncontrolled sharp nose up in the rolling.
      During the takeoff roll from runway 25R at Frankfurt on October 11, 1983, Flying Tigers 747-200 had the similar load shift. The pallet/load of pipes used for nuclear power plant cooling systems shifted . The incident damaged the pressure dome/bulkhead, aft fuselage and the tails sections of the 747-200

  • Tom Q

    April 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    My thoughts and prayers go to my many friends and former co-workers on this crew. One of the Captains was a very close friend.

    Please say a prayer for their families and loved ones they left behind.

    • Grace

      April 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Are they naming names Yet??

    • Armando O

      May 01, 2013 at 2:08 am

      is that you Tom? I know he was there, but was Jeremy the pilot flying?

  • David Maus

    April 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    My deepest condolences to the families and co-workers. Please find comfort in your memories, and healing as time passes. There are many great employees and families at National who will rally together to help the healing.

  • Pat

    April 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Lost a relative in this crash. Glad to know he did everything he could to correct it.


  • Shelley

    April 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I’ve just lost a lot of friends and colleagues in that crash. My prayers go out to their families and all of the co-workers who knew them.

  • John Stokes

    April 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Lost some great friends today one was like my son RIP my friends

    • Kate Rothove

      April 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      So sorry at the loss, we all morn with you. We have lost old friends.

  • Randy Ryan

    April 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    When ANY aircraft crashes we in the aviation industry suffer a severe loss. Our hearts and prayers go out to their family and friends.

  • Ray Maersch

    April 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I am completely beside myself at this time. my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all lost as I knew most on the flight. may god be with them and their families.


    April 30, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Whatever the reason of crash may be, the Crew lost their lives. We share the grief with the families of Crew and extend our heart felt condolences.
    Load Masters Forum

  • Caitlin Dudzik

    April 30, 2013 at 1:16 am

    My thoughts are with all of my former co-workers and families. So sorry for this horrible day.

  • Ron (UAL)

    April 30, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Very sorry to hear this. Best we can hope for now is that we will learn what happened, and it may save someone else from the same fate.
    My thoughts and prayers to you all, and to their friends and families.
    Ron (UAL B-777 Capt.)

  • Annette Thompsett

    April 30, 2013 at 2:53 am

    My prayers go out to the families and friends of the crewmembers lost today. I am stunned to hear this news and and think about all the wonderful people I worked with at National and know the upcoming days will be so hard for so many. God Bless their families as they move through this terrible time.

  • bw

    April 30, 2013 at 3:12 am

    RIP to all who died. If the aircraft suddenly pitched up after takeoff, it could indicate a load movement that unbalanced the aircraft. At 1200 ft off the ground, there would have been little time for the aircraft to recover.

  • dog

    April 30, 2013 at 3:26 am

    so far, descriptions indicate a CG (center of gravity) problem –once out of ground effect, the aircraft pitches up–a common scenario

  • zh

    April 30, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I’ll miss you Jeremy.

  • Alex Lennane

    April 30, 2013 at 8:25 am

    We’d like to offer our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the crew and the staff at National, for this terrible accident.
    We will keep the site updated with any new information that comes out.
    The Loadstar team.

  • drb757

    April 30, 2013 at 11:08 am

    It sure sounds to me like the cargo shifted aft at rotation causing the pitch up and stall and crash.

  • Lenny

    April 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I flew half way around the world with these guys. They will be greatly missed.

  • MarcV

    April 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    The aviation community is very small in the big scheme of things. The Loadmaster Community is even smaller. Many of us come across each other regularly. The thought of this makes me only pray it does not happen again. Take the time to give prayer to your aviation friends and family. We in the aviation community are unique in what we do. Unlike any other job, accidents in our field although not as common are always worse. RIP National Crew.

  • Gomer

    April 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I flew as a loadmaster since 1964 both military and civilian, as many of you have stated, we are a small group of aviators in our own little world, prayers to the families and friends of these brothers of all of us, I’m retired from flying now and will have a crew rest drink in their honor.

  • john

    April 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    classic pitch up due to shifting load at rotation which then puts the aircraft out of balanced flight. Many accidents have happened this way with cargo flights. Lost a friend years ago flying a small Beech-18 with newspapers in it. Same thing with pitch up, stall and crash.

    Bless those that were lost.

  • Alex Lennane

    April 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    For those people asking for a crew list, I believe that National is waiting until all relatives have been informed. We would prefer not to speculate on the site but will let you know any details when they emerge. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Frank and Dorothy

    April 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    May our prayers and thought give you solace and strength.

    Little did we know that when we had Jamie stay with us in January that it would be the last time we would see him. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

  • david

    April 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    weight and balance matter…r.i.p.

    • Teresa

      May 01, 2013 at 1:18 am

      Weight and balance matter?? On that note, I wonder whose responsibility was it to make sure the cargo was properly distributed in the plane.

      • Gomer

        May 02, 2013 at 3:45 am

        Teresa, it is the Loadmasters responsibility to insure the correct placement of all cargo in the A/C, but it is too early to start pointing fingers, there are so many computer controlled items on the 400, anything could have failed, I was a Loadmaster on the 747 and I flew on the 200,300 and the 400, just pass on a prayer for those who lost their lives, the experts will find out what happened.All of you still in the business, fly safe

        • JAFFERY

          May 02, 2013 at 6:20 pm

          We share the grief with families and they will be in our prayers for a long time.
          I have been flying as a Load Master in Afghanistan (5 stations). I have two more points in my mind which I want to share.
          1. There were five army vehicles O/B weighing more than 70 tons and must be on 20FT pallets. The vehicles may not be secured properly on the pallets or loosely lashed or sufficient Belts not engaged as per required G-Factor.
          2. 70 tons of payload on 747-400 is not considered as heavy by most of the Crew. They try to roll out in the middle of the runway and executing a steep climb. Every single angle above normal climb angle during take-off will add extra stress on the cargo load and aircraft itself. The load could not sustain the stress and this could be the cause of load shift which was pointed out by the crew.

  • just another soldiers at BAF

    May 01, 2013 at 6:39 am

    no one has mentioned the multiple hail events that occurred that day here at BAF. more than one was severe enought to keep people indoors or undercover until the hail subsided. from the video you can tell it’s not hailing at that location at that time but could the atmospheric conditions that cause hail events that were present have contributed to the crash?

  • Michael B

    May 01, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    The release of the dash-cam video that I saw of this terrible accident will be helpful in determining the cause. I watched it and my heart just sank since I knew several of these gentlemen. I feel for their families and friends. My prayers go out to them.

  • Cj

    May 01, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    First off: RIP crew.
    In the dashcam it seems the pilots of course did all they could to come out of the stall.
    Discounting loss of aircraft control due to a structural or system failure, what is the minimum altitude at which they could have recovered the aircraft in such a severe stall ?

  • John D.

    May 02, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers to the families left behind.
    CRJ Capt USA

  • alvin

    April 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    as stated before says thats what exactly happened. i saw the same thing as well…

  • Teresa

    April 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    As was stated, I witnessed the same thing. My prayers go to the family members for their loss of loved ones in this horrific accident. God rest their souls.

  • Garrett

    April 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I’m guessing “micro UP burst” was a typo? Micro bursts are downdrafts associated with thunderstorms.

    My condolences to the families of the crew and anyone that knew them.

  • Yes

    April 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I can confirm this exact story. No way anyone could have survived.

  • Jm

    April 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Microburst are a combination of both up and down drafts in which have helped to caue many airline accidents in the US.

  • Chuck

    April 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

    When a severe micro-burst reaches ground level, the wind direction is then reversed, as the airflow is redirected back up, for a short distance.

  • atpcliff

    April 30, 2013 at 3:35 am

    A microburst is a strong downdraft of air….BUT, if it is close to the ground, when it hits the ground, the air moves back up. So, in a microburst, there is a downdraft in the middle, with a ring updraft all around the center of the downdraft. Flying through one close to the ground, you encounter up and downdrafts, and head and tail wind, depending on which part of the microburst you are in.