Cargo plane crash in Afghanistan kills 5 from Michigan - KMSP-TV

Cargo plane crash in Afghanistan kills 5 from Michigan

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A photo provided by Steven Koehler shows the crash shortly after takeoff from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan Monday afternoon. A photo provided by Steven Koehler shows the crash shortly after takeoff from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan Monday afternoon.
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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

It's a snapshot Steven Koehler hoped he would never have to see -- black smoke billowing from a plane that crashed shortly after takeoff from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan Monday afternoon.  Seven crew members were killed.

Koehler believes he knew almost all of them.

"I know those people.  They're all very talented," he said.  "That connection amongst the pilots and the crew members and the office and the entire company really continued to stay strong."

Koehler worked as a pilot for National Airlines before the company moved its headquarters from Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti to Florida this past March.  Five of the seven on board were from Michigan.  The company is not releasing any names, but a spokesperson said their families have been notified.

"I think right now the key is to focus on the families and those people who were lost," Koehler said.

There are still a lot of questions on what exactly caused this plane to crash.  The Taliban initially claimed responsibility, but the U.S. government has said that is not true.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and the Afghan government are working together on this investigation, and a National Airlines spokesperson told me that their company will cooperate completely.

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