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Yesterday, a National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F, (reg N949CA) crashed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. At about 7am, local time, NCR 102 was heading to Dubai, appears to stall and fall out of the sky with seven crew members on-board.

“This was a purely cargo flight and no passengers were aboard,” National Airlines said in a press statement according to the Examiner. “Cargo consisted of vehicles and routine general cargo.”

“This is a devastating loss for our family and we’ll work diligently with authorities to find the cause,” said National Airlines President Glen Joerger. “Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with our crewmembers and their families.”

“National will release additional information as it becomes available, in cooperation with government authorities,” the airline said. “Our focus at this time is on the family members of those we’ve lost, and on assisting the National Transportation Safety Board and Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority in their investigations. As of now, the cause of the accident is unknown.”

Boeing released a statement on the crash saying, “The Boeing Company extends sincere condolences to the families and friends of the crew who perished in the crash of a National Air Cargo flight near Bagram, Afghanistan. At the request of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing will provide technical assistance to investigating authorities.”

For additional photos of the accident,  check out NYCAviation.com.

This story was written by one or more of our AirlineReporter staff members. Email us: [email protected]

Flight Review: Flying Business Class on American Airlines 777-300ER

Ouch! First thoughts are with the families and friends of the seven pilots/crew lost.
The very limited video ‘suggests’ a very steep AOA and resulting stall. Still, we’ll just have to wait 12-18 months to know the real details. If it is an overly steep AOA, we may never know the ‘why.’ Point one again; empathy for the families and a simple RIP for the lost aviators.

Possible cargo shift or run away trim

Steve I heard the same thing about a possible cargo shift. As a vet an ex Loadmaster I am all to aware at how that can take place. If the cargo shift did happen it would def cause the stall out during the climb.

RIP en sterkte aan de nabestaanden.

Zeer heftig.

Our prayers are with the families of the crew. Pilot reported a load shift in take off.

The pilot or co-pilot was and old friend/boyfriend of mine… So devastating and shocking! My thought and prayers go out to Jeremy Lipkas family and daughter.. Rest in peace.. U will NEVER be forgotten.

A horrifying crash and the worst crash video that I have ever seen. The slow fall of this huge airliner gave me chills down my spine. Our prayers are with the crew and their families. May God bless their poor souls.

Doctor Smith

Horrible. Amen.

Seeing planes take off and land all the time you have to wonder, how would I react if I saw this. I don’t know if the driver in this video is so stunned he didn’t even think to speak. This had to be a horrific experience for the crew. It looked like he tried to save it but there just wasn’t the altitude to compensate for the stall. People forget that frieghters are some of the most dangerous aircraft of all to fly. As sad as it is to see this video, I’m glad it’s there to disprove the alleged terrorist claim as well.

Nalliah Thayabharan

The cargo flight N8-102 crew were heard on VHF air-band frequency reporting that some of the load of five heavy military vehicles weighing more than 70 tons in the cargo hold had shifted and the National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 stalled. National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 crashed and erupted into flames on impact. The crash site was near the end of the 11,849 ft long runway 03 within the perimeter of the Bagram airfield. All seven crew – Jamie Brokaw, pilot, Monroe, MI, Brad Hasler, pilot, Trenton, MI, Jeremy Lipka, pilot, Brooklyn, MI, Rinku Summan, pilot, Canton, MI, Michael Sheets, loadmaster, Ypsilanti, MI, Gary Stockdale, mechanic, Romulus, MI, Timothy Garrett, mechanic, Louisville, KY were killed on impact.
The loadmaster performs the calculations and plans cargo placement to keep the aircraft within permissible center of gravity limits throughout the flight. Loadmasters ensure cargo is placed on the aircraft in such a way as to prevent overloading sensitive sections of the airframe and cargo floor.
The loadmaster primarily supervises loading crews and procedures. Once positioned aboard the aircraft, the loadmaster ensures the cargo is secured against movement. Chains, straps, and integrated cargo locks are among the most common tools used to secure the cargo. Because cargo may shift during abrupt maneuvers, the loadmaster must determine the appropriate amount and placement of cargo restraint.
There are many things that could go wrong. If it was palletized, a lock could of failed. A chain holding the vehicle might of been weak and broke. Or a tiedown could of failed. There are many things that could of happened to cause the high nose pitch. Cargo shift is a high probability. Center of gravity on an aircraft is very important, especially on cargo planes. Watching the video makes me think that the cargo load got loose and shifted back and caused the rapid nose high pitch. It´s a very deep stall because the aircraft seem to be almost vertical in the rolling.

Similarly August 11, 1997, a Fine Air DC-8 aircraft loaded with 45 tons of fabric, departed Miami International airport, just moments into its flight the DC-8 came tumbling down killing at least 5 people. The DC-8 upon takeoff became tail heavy, stalled and then crashed in a Miami, business district just several hundred feet from the runway. Investigators have recovered several cargo latches from the DC-8 and it has been reported that only one of the latches was in the locked position. This would indicate that the cargo on the DC-8 upon takeoff had shifted to the tail off the aircraft making it tail heavy producing an uncontrolled sharp nose up in the rolling.

During the takeoff roll from runway 25R at Frankfurt at 0804Z, October 11, 1983, Flying Tigers 747-200 had the similar load shift. The pallet/load which shifted was pipes used for nuclear power plant cooling systems. The airplane was not written off and was flying again about 6 weeks later, having been repaired by a Boeing swat team. The swat team removed the aft fuselage and tail sections, replaced the pressure dome/bulkhead, aft fuselage and the tails sections

Paul Steinman

Thanks for some useful insight there, Nalliah. However for God’s sake, it’s not ‘could of’ or ‘might of’, but ‘could HAVE’ and ‘might HAVE’!

Nalliah Thayabharan

Thanks Paul! It was caused by my phones’s auto spelling correcting program.


Thank you Nalliah, very informative explanation, RIP to those who died, I hope we can confirm what happen and make sure the loads on future cargo aircraft are more secure to avoid another terrible crash like this…

FFS, Paul, you really had to grammar police an insightful comment on such a sad and serious matter?

A common phonetic error. The contraction of ‘could have’ (could’ve) sounds like “could of” and is often erroneously spelled that way. Irritating to some who value fastidiously clear speech. Good summary despite the minor mispellings. Over ‘n’ out.

Vector Man

I think this was a combo of both pilot error and poor inspection of load and possibly bad tie downs. Depending on what was in the aircraft, ie. Bradley’s, Tanks etc. if the tie downs were not secured properly, ie. ratchets secured with 500 mile tape or other secure mechanics, anything could have caused a shift on the load especially when the pilot takes off like a Cowboy from the Airfield. I think this was a chain of events that brought this aircraft down and lost some beautiful souls.

What a wanker. As if u have any idea what happened and yet your already criticizing the pilot. U moron.


Vector- before jumping to conclusions like a blabbering idiot, do realize that this is in Afghanistan and the pilot is required to take off at that angle to avoid SAMs.


Sirens101- Actually you are incorrect about SAMs. When did you hear the last SAM threat reported in Bagram or Kandahar or wherever else? Currently all of Afghanistan is being reported as low threat of SAMs but medium for SAFIRE. I know for a fact aircraft do have a higher than normal pitch attitude flying out of Bagram simply because of the mountains that surround the airfield and not the threat of enemy fire. I know this from experience since…well I’m in Afghanistan right now. I can only speculate from what my Soldiers heard and witnessed, as we are all FW aviators at Bagram, there was a definite change in CG, which can only presume one thing. But I would suggest waiting until the officila NTSB report is published before making any presumptions.


I do not know if this plane was fitted with the Weight & Balance system.
Some Cargo planes are flying without this system.
The system calculates the weight and the center of gravity with sensors in the main and nose gears.
This works only on the ground , a wrong loading of the aircraft is detected during cargo loading , and the cargo loading system also stops loading cargo to the tail section ,to stop a tail tipping .
The loadmaster has normaly the loadsheet information and the Weight and balance information and can check both results.

Aircraft maint tech B2 – avionics EASA operator

That system ain’t going to save you if the load shifts back at rotation…

Could the same thing happen on an Airbus aircraft with its Flight envelope protection system ????

Assuming that it was a cargo shift as some people suggested, it may have been a situation where NOTHING could have saved the aircraft. It is a possibility that the center of load exceeded the limit, resulting in an unflyable aircraft

@ Ron: Yes, this could happen just as easily to an Airbus. The Flight Envelope Protection System prevents a pilot from requesting a response that would stall the aircraft, but it offers no protection whatsoever from the laws of physics. If the cargo load drastically shifted and unbalanced the aircraft, it would go down regardless of Boeing, Airbus, etc.


There is no amount of input the “A” (alpha) Floor protection (stall) on the Airbus FBW system could apply to the tail surfaces that could prevent a catastrophic load shift stall. As stated earlier, Airbus’s FBW “normal law” offers complete flight envelope protection. However, the computers cannot detect an apparent load shift which would make the aircraft “drastically unbalanced” and “un-flyable” as you have stated. Va on Airbus “normal law” is applied between “Alpha max” and “Alpha protect”, and applies TO/GA power to engines in addition to limiting bank angles to 45*. If there is a discrepancy in this statement, please correct me….after all, I am a Boeing guy.

@Tesla & Carlos Thanks for the reply, One more thing, Had it been a T-tail aircraft,say an Ilyushin Il-76, would the stall be more pronounced??

@Tesla & Carlos thanks for the reply, One more thing, Had it been a T-tail aircraft,Say Ilyushin II-76 would the stall been more pronounced/deeper stall??


Loadmasters are critical to the safe operation of cargo aircraft. If the center of gravity is miscalculated the aircraft can be virtualy unflyable, see video above for example.


If the pilot reported a load shift then, for lack of any other evidence at this point, that shift was probably the cause of this accident. For all anybody knows at this point the Loadmaster performed his duties properly. Restraints can fail with no warning for any number of reasons. There is also nothing to indicate that the pilots did not perform properly. Steep approaches and departures are common practice at many war zone air bases. My first ride into Danang in ’68 on a 707 was a 1st class rollercoaster ride.
Something obviously went wrong, but at this point no one knows enough about what happened to start assigning blame to anything or anyone, especially the crew. To try to do so is immature and disrespectful.

Bertram W. Schlosser

The “Loadmaster” really wasn’t. He was an uncertified civilian, who may as well as been hired like a day laborer on the corner. In his defense, he did not have sufficient SOP and regs at his disposal. However, he did have some NAC company docs which were also determined to be basically not FAA certified. Unfortunately, he did not even comply with the minimal standards that the private company had provided. 1/2 to 1/3 of the necessary straps called for were not implemented. Additionally, there were five heavy ATVs on board, and Boeing said only one (1) should have been there. Read the whole NTSB report to get the sad story of negligence involved.

Simon Varughese

Dear all
With regards to the National Air Cargo B744F crash at Bagram.
Kindly note that if it happend due to the load shifting immediately after the take off this purely becoz of the noncompliace of standard procedures by the load master as well ad the GHA and airlines officials at Bagram.
If the aircraft was planned out of trim the pilot should have reallized it while taking off itself.
Here they uplifted 5 Vehicles and some thing else (0ffcourse they need to take some other load if taken only 5 vehicles loaded at the Q7 positions to keep the CG within the bracket).

Most of the Civilian airlines doesnt use metal chain for structural lashing other tjan Russin built aircrafts instead they use lashing belts (straps) ranging from the capacity 2200Lbs onwards.

Here they might have loaded subject 5 vehicles at center using 4 pallets positions for each one and dfntly no aircrafts fixed or moveable locks might not have used if it loaded on 16 or 20ft pallets due to height restrictions from positions F onwards.

What they missed is the calculations of structural limitation against the motion towards forward/aft/up/down and sideways based on each airlines GOM in consideration with aircraft manufatures manuals.

I believe that if they followed the standard regulations and safety considerations, this will not have happend since one lashing belt’s or locks malfunction cant shift the load towards forward, aft or upwarfs.

You are a complete imbecile. If you choose to post in a public forum, can you please attempt to use your limited intelligence to type and spell like most humans do. You speculate about non-compliance but your non-compliance to standard language usage leaves something to be desired.


The B747 is also fitted with a nose gear press oleo switch ,if the aircraft was out of trim the system gives a takeoff warning when the oleo switch and greenband setting ,from the horizontal stab,are incorrect.
The green band setting from the b747 can also be extended to nose down or nose up.This is don by the ulc in the MAWEA.Aurals and master warning light on the glareshield gives the pilot warnings when the powerlevers are in the takeoff position.

You are the REAL jackass! His technical expertise in describing what likely happened trumps your moronic interest in grammar by 1000X. Go away troll!

I knew two of the pilot and Jeremy was one my best friends. We went to flight school together. He was a great stick and rudder guy. He would have known what was going on and fought it quickly. I know the frequencies are monitored at the base and I would be surprised if it was not a load shift given the AOA they had. They will all be missed.

Pilot wife

I knew all the pilots on board and have heard wonderful things about the loadmaster & mechanics. My husband has flown with these men for years. They took their job serious and worked professionally. My husband and others have mentioned numerous times that this loadmaster was meticulous and the best. I stand behind that and give all my love and support to our National family who lost so much. I want to finish by saying these men were proud to be able to help our military and took pride in their missions. Please be loving with so much speculation. No one knows exactly what happened. Let them rest in peace & their families mourn these wonderful men & lovers of Aviation. God bless our pilots.
~now you all have your own wings~ :,(
Pilot Wife of a National Air pilot and friend to the missed~

Nicely written tribute to the crew. May they indeed Rest In Peace. (Translated for those who criticize others for their own egotistical self – promotion: STFU.)


Well Said Pilot Wife… Well said!!!

Wonder if wind shear could also be a contributing factor?

Thoughts go out to all the families involved in this

former flight mech

This is so sad! As one of my flight mechanic(DC10-30) responsibilities I had to ensure the proper loading of our cargo. I always feared that I could have missed something or that a failure would happen.
The 1997 crash in Miami made a huge impact on how I work on aircraft and how I supervise the loading of my aircraft. This is the biggest fear that I have always had while flying.
Prayers for the families of these heroes.

Sterling Harra

I’ve been an Airline Pilot for the last 23 years, a CheckAirman on the 727,757,767, and 777. There is know doubt in my mind that this was “cargo shift” and not the fault of human error. Things break! God Bless the Family’s.

Still IS “human error”! Someone didn’t secure the load properly.

Lori Knight

I have a grandson in the Army over there now and it is so scary, cargo or not there was still people manning the plane. My prayers to their families.

A DC-8 crashed in Cordova, CA in 2000. The crew reported that they had “an extreme CG problem.” They didn’t, they had a control problem. http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2003/rancho_cordova_ca/index.html

Looking at how they strap those trucks in it is hard to believe anything can move. A friend is leading the NTSB investigation so I hope to get info soon. We all miss those guys!

My daughters fiancé was the loadmaster. She talked to him that morning. The plane had taken off from somewhere and circled for 2 1/2 hours before landing to refuel. The load wasnt an issue during the take off and landing before the refueling.from her conversation they only refueled at Bagram. She is confused as to why they had to circle, but is crushed people that don’t know everything are speculating.
Please stop speculating and assigning blame. mike was a wonderful man that loved his job and knew how important it was.


Accidents are usually result of a combination of unfortunate events. In this case load shifting towards the tail is a highly probable cause of this disaster. One or more failed latches or straps, normal accelaration forces acting on the load suring take off, gravitational force resulting from the normally high pitch angle during climb and possible turbulance after take off could have added up to cause this accident. The 747-400 has an advanced flight data recording system and I am sure that the investigation will pinpoint the exact cause. Condolences to the families and the loved ones of the crew whom I am sure did their best to prevent the crash until the very last moment..

Fabio Ungaro

I have to say:
1 It is requared to get the hiest place possible, as fast as you can, in this war senario. And the pilot tried to do this, knowing he would necessarely lost speed fast.
2 The problems:
a)the heavy cargo in this nose up position put the CG far berind.
b)when he saw that the speed was in the limit he tried to put the nose down and cause aerodinamic effort resulting more lost of speed, as the CG was far berind.
c) He try to turn left simultaneausly as “b”, in order to remain in the safe area, near the airport control for this war senario, causing more lost of speed due to aerodinamic effort.
d) When he turns left, the hight win is in a more vertical position and the left is in a more horisontal position so he has more sustentation from the left side and less from the other.
As a result of a plus b plus c plus d you have a stall without a cargo deplaced problem! So if there were not the orientation of a inicial maximum hight in minimum space that fight was to be ok.

As an Firefighter Officer in ARFF I am sometimes at FLL Airport. My heart goes out to the families of the flight crew lost. Speculation should be left to sports or other hobbies, not after a tragic loss as this. I pray for the families. The flight crew are my heroes often unsung. I salute them for their service and God Bless their families in their time of loss.

I’m in agreement with about 95% of the above comments. However, I don’t buy the “pilot error” view — not for an instant!!! Any real pilot watching that tragic video knows that there’s no way the crew could ever have gotten the nose that high on take-off, even if they pulled the yoke(s) right into their lap(s). All that would have done is put them in buffet, with an impending stall to follow.

No, the only way to “achieve” that kind of AOA, in those conditions, would have been with a complete cg-shift (i.e., load shift). Think teeter-tooter. Once the cg began to shift – dramitically – as the “heavy stuff” went to the rear — the nose had to go way UP, and the tail had to go way DOWN. It’s simple physics.

What’s amazing to me is that even with the nose of that big 747-400 nearly in the vertical, with only about 500-ft. of altitude + very little airspeed to work with, those crack-pilots were still able to get that mighty jet wings-level before it hit the ground. They never gave up the good fight — not for an instant!!! Give those boys another 500-ft. to work with, and we’d be giving them air medals today. Not suggesting that they did something wrong for god’s sake….

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When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
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Bless you!

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