The Taliban was quick to claim responsibility for downing an Air Force transport plane in Afghanistan in October, killing 11 aboard the C-130J and three Afghans manning a guard tower, per the Washington Post. But the Air Force has finally announced the real reason for the crash: a hard plastic night-vision-goggles (NVG) case, per an Air Mobility Command statement released Friday. The case had been used by the pilot to prop up the plane's wing elevators for more overhead clearance as cargo was being unloaded at the Jalalabad airport, and it was accidentally left in place as the plane took off. "Because the pilots were operating in darkened nighttime flying conditions and wearing NVGs, neither pilot recognized and removed the NVG case after loading operations were complete or during takeoff," the statement read.
With the case stuck there and the elevators still raised, the aircraft pointed too far upward as it took off and caused the plane to stall, and the co-pilot then erred in identifying the issue, causing complications that led to the crash about 28 seconds after takeoff; the plane slammed into the ground, a perimeter wall, and the tower. "Our hearts go out to the family members and friends of those killed in this accident," said Brig. Gen. Patrick Mordente, who led the inquiry. "The investigation team pushed an intense fact-finding investigation to understand what happened on Oct. 2, 2015, and to honor all whose lives were cut short." Among the dead were two Air Force security workers, four crew members, and five civilian contractors, per the Post. (Airmen at a nuclear missile base are being investigated for drug use.)