YouTubeA video posted on YouTube shows the plane stall and plummet to the ground.
Warning: Graphic content
Seven Americans died Monday in a plane crash in Afghanistan and horrifying video has emerged of the 747 cargo plane’s apparent final moments in the air.
The video, shot on a vehicle’s dashboard camera, shows the 747 during takeoff before its nose pitches up and it starts to stall, suddenly plummeting to the ground on its belly and exploding into a giant fireball.
The aircraft, operated by National Airlines, was carrying seven crew members and cargo and was bound for Dubai from the Bagram Airfield military base.
“This was a purely cargo flight and no passengers were aboard,” the company said in a statement. “Cargo consisted of vehicles and routine general cargo.”
No cause for the crash was immediately determined. The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting down the aircraft, but no gunfire or rocket can be seen in the video, and the Taliban are known to exaggerate their attacks and casualties.
The U.S. military is “looking into the authenticity of the video,” Wired.com reports.
Wired’s Danger Room suggests a cargo malfunction could have caused the crash.
Any airplane must be carefully loaded to maintain the center of gravity within a carefully designed and tested zone of the airplane. Cargo aircraft are always loaded so light things are far away from the “CG” and heavier things are closer to the CG. If the cargo inside the 747 were to break loose during take off, it would slide towards the tail, dramatically shifting the center of gravity to the back of the airplane. This would cause the nose to rise dramatically, and without sufficient power to overcome the extremely high angle of attack (the angle between the wing and the flow of air), the air flowing over the wings would “detach” from its normal flow, causing a stall where the wings can no longer generate enough lift to keep the airplane airborne.