DOVER, Del. – Passengers aboard a military cargo plane that crashed shortly after takeoff from Dover Air Force Base say they sensed a power failure in the aircraft's engines.
All 17 people aboard the giant C-5 survived the April 3 crash.
Retired Navy chief petty officer Paul Kath and his wife, Hanna, who were using "space-available" seats to take a vacation in Germany, said they felt something was wrong during takeoff.
"We both looked at each other after about three or four minutes like, 'This just doesn't sound right.' The engines just weren't getting power," said Paul Kath, 59, a former Navy corpsman. "It was a lack of thrust."
The four-engine jet, laden with fuel and stuffed with supplies for U.S. troops in Iraq, rumbled down the runway.
"The engines sounded like we were at cruising altitude, which just does not happen in five minutes," said Hanna Kath, 53.
Minutes after takeoff, the airplane belly-landed into a field as it attempted to return to the runway. It did not catch fire, but the tail, nose and one of four engines were ripped off, leaving debris stretching several hundred yards.
Air Force officials have yet to determine the cause of the crash, but the crew reported an engine problem and declared an emergency 10 minutes into the flight. The military has released no details about what happened.