According to national newspaper Correio da Manhã, military sources said the plane lost power in its engines as it was taking off, and while the pilots felt the engines failing, it was too late to abort the manoeuvre.
On its Facebook page, the Air Force said the C-130H “suffered an accident during takeoff on a training mission.”
“At this moment of deep sorrow, our thoughts are with the families and friends of these our comrades, to whom all the necessary support is being provided.
“The analysis of the causes of the accident will follow the procedures set out through a survey conducted by the Air Force’s Central Commission for Investigation. The Air Force is in mourning.”
The C-130 is understood to have accelerated to the end of the runway of Air Base 6 before crashing into a safety ditch.
This, according to CM’s report, is understood to have caused damage to the plane that allowed fuel to come in contact with the hot engines and electrical components that ultimately caused a fatal fire.
Based on survivor accounts, the newspaper reports six of the seven occupants were able to escape the wreckage, but the Pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Fernando Castro, was stuck in the cockpit.
Despite already being safely outside the mangled aircraft co-pilot Captain André Saramago and maintenance engineer Sergeant Armândio Navais went back into the burning plane in a heroic attempt to rescue the pilot, but tragically also perished in the fire.
Experts from Lockheed, which manufactures the plane, are, according to CM, also in Portugal to help with the Air Force’s internal investigation.