Reporting Kate Raddatz
PINE ISLAND, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota native was one of seven people killed when a cargo plane crashed Monday near an Air Force base in Afghanistan.
The pilot of the Dubai-bound Boeing 747-400 jet was Jeremy Lipka from Pine Island. The plane crashed just after taking off Monday from Bagram Air Force Base.
Jeremy Lipka grew up in Pine Island, but he had lived in Michigan for the last ten years. His family last saw him about two weeks ago when he came to visit his daughter.
Lipka and one other pilot, along with five other cargo plane workers for National Air Cargo, were all killed in the crash.
WCCO spoke with a family member who was very emotional talking about Lipka, who had been flying planes for the civilian contracting company for several years and had had close calls before.
Lipka’s stepfather said, “There was risk there all the time. He knew the risks. He volunteered to take the trips. When they went to Iraq they used to have military escorts.”
Jeremy’s uncle, Terry Lipka, was in Milwaukee when he got a phone call from Jeremy Lipka’s mother about the crash. He told WKOW in Madison: “I was shocked at first. That news floors you at first, you don’t believe it, and then all of a sudden this is real.”
His uncle said he had always wanted to be a pilot.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for downing the plane, but investigators don’t think that was the case.