The video: A plane comes into the camera's view, its nose appropriately pitched upward after takeoff. But instead of propelling onward and out of sight, the airplane hangs in the air for a moment, almost upright, before falling suddenly to the ground. It immediately erupts into a ball of flame upon contact with the Earth.
What we know: The Boeing 747-400 cargo plane, owned by National Airlines in Orlando, Fla., took off on April 29 from Bagram Air Field, just north of Kabul, Afghanistan. It reached an altitude of about 1,312 feet before crashing within the base and killing all seven of the crew members on board. A spokeswoman for the company said the crew was composed of four pilots, two mechanics, and a load master, who was responsible for managing the weight and balance of the cargo. Five of the seven people were from Michigan, but otherwise their full identities have been withheld out of respect for the families.
The Taliban initially claimed responsibility for the crash. But NATO immediately shot down that assertion, saying there were no reports of insurgent activity in or around the base — the biggest in Afghanistan.
The National Transportation Safety Board is reportedly sending a team of investigators, as well as representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, to Afghanistan to assist local authorities.
Early evidence suggests some cargo in the hold of the plane may have shifted during takeoff.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- 8 ways you're probably overspending without even realizing it
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why the West should accept ISIS as a sovereign nation
- Even critics of the euro didn't see this coming
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 6 constitutional amendments that just missed the cut
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
Subscribe to the Week