Three airmen were killed when their U-28A tactical airborne intelligence plane crashed on a training mission near a small airport in eastern New Mexico, the Air Force said Wednesday.
The airmen were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron of the 27th Special Operations Wing based at Cannon AFB, near Clovis, New Mexico, the Air Force said. Their identities weren't released pending notification of their families.
The single-engine U-28A crashed at at 6:50 p.m. (8:50 p.m. ET) Tuesday in a field near Clovis Municipal Airport, near the Texas border, said Capt. Brandon Baccam, a spokesman for the base.
Kyle Berkshire, director of the airport, told NBC affiliate KOB of Albuquerque that the plane crashed a half-mile from the airport's property. He said it was performing "touch and go's" — practice maneuvers in which an aircraft will touch the runway and take off again.
Video of the scene showed that the plane was left partly intact. Berkshire said wreckage was spread over 50 to 100 feet.
"We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family," Col. Ben Maitre, installation commander at Cannon, said in a statement. "Our sympathies are with the loved ones and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time."