Tanker crashes on takeoff at Calif. air station

A Boeing 707 military tanker plane crashed and burst into flames Wednesday as it took off from Point Mugu Naval Air Station in Southern California, injuring the three people on board, an air base spokeswoman said.

May 18, 2011 9:10:15 PM PDT
A Boeing 707 tanker plane skidded off a runway and burst into flames as it took off from Point Mugu Naval Air Station in Southern California, injuring the three people on board, an air base spokeswoman said.

Broadcast reports showed thick black smoke and flames pouring from the light-colored aircraft after it slid off the runway at about 5:25 p.m. The three on board, all civilian employees, escaped with minor injuries, air station spokeswoman Terry Reid.

Reid said the plane is operated by Alexandria, Va.-based-Omega Aerial Refueling Services, Inc., which contracts with the Navy to provide fleet operations support and fuel transport services.

Omega president W. Stewart Orr declined comment when reached by phone.

A helicopter dumped several loads of water on the plane, with little immediately discernible effect.

Firefighters on the ground appeared to be letting the fire burn but were dousing the area around the tanker. The stricken plane came to a rest within a few hundred feet of the Pacific Ocean, but Reid said none of the fuel seeped into the ocean.

It's not known where the tanker was headed at the time of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the cause of the crash.

Point Mugu Naval Air Station is in Ventura County and about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.


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