A Rare Look At A Hornet Hitting The Barricade After Front Gear Malfunction
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We’ve all seen belly landings and how that goes. The plane’s gears are either shot off or malfunctioning, so the pilot is tasked with the stressful situation of carefully belly flopping the plane so that it doesn’t kill him and hopefully saves the plane from being scrapped if the operation is gentle enough. This takes not only courage but also very good piloting skills.
This incident took place on October 24th, 1997 onboard USS Nimitz with the pilot running on 300 lbs. (50 gallons) of fuel.
But what happens to naval aviators when such a situation arises? Since you don’t have a long runway nor a nice patch of grass in the middle of the ocean, you’re in for quite the experience. You have one shot at landing because if you miss the line without one of your wheels there is no way you can take off again. It’s just a bad situation all around.
Another option is, of course, to eject and get picked up. This is a final resort as the plane be totaled and would need to be replaced which costs millions.
What happened here showcases the third option. When Captain Scott Slater’s F/A-18 Hornet’s front gear got hung up, the crew of USS Nimitz pulled out a barricade. This was the first time this was done with a Hornet, but as you’ll see, the results were stunning.