Mainstream media reports were false on alleged aircraft crash

Mainstream media reports from various news outlets and posts from microblogs, like Twitter, were completely inaccurate today regarding an alleged C-17 crash in Texas.  We’ve personally talked with officials in the Pentagon and Air Mobility Command Headquarters and have no reports of a cargo aircraft down.  We’ll update if anything has happened.

UPDATE: Officials from Altus AFB, Okla. provided this statement:
It is common for some aircraft to fly low level in the Olney, Texas area and it was a normal day of flying at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. All aircraft assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing have been accounted for at this time. Altus Air Force Base aircraft were not involved in any crashes or incidents today.

UPDATE 2: March 24, 2009 One Airman’s accounts of the event as it unfolded, here. We’re not sure where the event was initially reported, however we think In From the Cold may have said it best: “this isn’t the first time a news organization has made this type of mistake, and it won’t be the last.” 

UPDATE 3: March 28, 2009: Capt. Christina Sukach and the Emerging Technology team briefed this case study to the Gov Camp 2.0 un-conference. See more here and another here.

With user-generated-media and instant communications on a global scale, anyone can be a reporter anywhere.  With more and more people on the information grid, official sources are more important now than ever and Air Force Public Affairs at every level used traditional and new forms of communication to correct the record in about 52 minutes.  All news can now be national or international news within Web reach.

From a Public Affairs perspective, it was inspiring to see that we were receiving updates from Wing and Major Command offices through multiple traditional and new methods of communication.  The offers of assistance from military and civilian, as well as constant updates through our own Twitter feeds: @afpaa and @US_Air_Force, were great and provided us with a force multiplier tool to relay the correct information. See the PA response online here. For a real-time look at posts, click here.

We’d also like to thank the complete strangers on Facebook, Twitter and the blogs who helped us correct the record and push out the official word that no airplane had crashed.  Thank you