Enemy Fire Did Not Cause Crash That Killed Four Hurlburt Airmen

An Air Force probe has found that hostile fire did NOT cause the crash of a small Iraqi Air Force plane that killed four airmen from Hurlburt Field.

The Iraqi pilot of the 7SL, made by Aerocomp of Merritt Island, also died in the May 30 crash on a mission to locate remote landing sites near Jalulah, about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Investigators found no evidence the plane was shot down nor any sign of mechanical problems.

However, they declined to offer an opinion on the cause, citing lack of legal protection from use in potential court action.

Winds were calm, visibility unrestricted and the temperature hot when the plane went down trying to land on a road or while making a low observation pass about an hour after taking off. It was 510 pounds over its published weight limit, according to the report.

The report concludes the crew was killed instantly when the plane crashed nose-first and upside down at or near full power. It had scraped its nose landing gear on the ground before crashing.

The Americans killed were Major William "Brian" Downs, of Winchester, Virginia, Captains Jeremy Fresques, of Clarkdale, Arizona, and Derek Argel, of Lompoc, California, and Staff Segeant Casey Crate, of Spanaway, Wash.