By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) Wednesday said that a Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” cargo plane carrying students from the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) and chance passengers caught fire while about to take off from Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga, on its way to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
PAF Spokesman Major Aristides Galang, said, fortunately, no one was hurt on the passengers and crewmembers of the C-130 with tail number 4726 which caught fire at about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday.
He said students taking up Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Program in Camp Aguinaldo, which is the main academic program of the NDCP and a number of civilians who were chance passengers, were on board the aircraft when it caught fire while it was holding point at “20L” of the base’s runway.
All in all, there are a total of seven crewmembers and 115 passengers on board the plane which was bound for Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and later to Pag-Asa Island.
“Its mission is to ferry MNSA students under NDCP in Palawan. I think they will be visiting the Spratly Island as part of the curriculum of the NDCP,” Galang said.
Galang said firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene after being alerted by the flight crew about the fire.
The fire was put out at about 7:36 a.m. the same day.
Galang, however, cannot provide details on the exact cause of the fire and the total damage to the C-130 plane pending the conduct of an investigation.
Meanwhile, the flight operations of the other four C-130 aircraft are temporarily suspended pending their inspection.
The C-130, it was recalled, is the primary cargo lift aircraft of the PAF which transport troops and relief goods to places stricken by typhoons, earthquake and other disasters or calamities.
PAF currently has in its inventory five C-130 planes.