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Air Tanker Flew CIA Missions

A federal investigator says the probe of a firefighting tanker crash in the Sierra this summer has been hampered by missing records – partly because the C-130A flew spy missions for the CIA.

George Petterson is an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. He tells The Associated Press the plane at one point was set up for electronic surveillance for use in CIA activity somewhere in the world.

Records are hard to come by. As a result, the NTSB cannot determine the flight history of the ex-Air Force cargo plane built by Lockheed in 1956. The aircraft was used in fighting a wildland fire in June near Walker, California. The wings of the plane snapped off, sending all three crew members to their death.

Petterson says the Air Force modified many of its C-130As with new wing parts in the early – to mid- 1980s, but he can´t tell whether the crashed plane was one of them.

He adds the Air Force indicated the records of the wing modifications have been destroyed.