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Post Info TOPIC: Too low, hit the trees


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Too low, hit the trees

From Lionel Mussell:

We were returning from Changi to Lyneham on a CasEvac flight. We had passengers who had been injured in scraps with terrorists in the Malay jungles, some of their wives  plus the pilot of a Brigand fighter stationed at Butterworth. He had engine failure over the sea and had to bail out but unfortunately he was too low and his chute hadnt fully opened when he hit the water and broke many bones in his body. For the flight he was strapped to a stretcher near the rear door and could see out through the round  window in the door.

All went well until the final leg from Idris in North Africa to Lyneham. We were informed that Lyneham was fogged in and we should divert to Tangmere - a fighter station some distance away. Lyneham had all the facilities for receiving casualties so our pilot asked permission to do a GCA (Ground Controlled Approach) and it seemed to be going well until the controller said, Ive lost you - look ahead and land. My right hand that was controlling the power with my throttles, was nearly broken as the pilot suddenly banged his throttle levers fully open and we felt sudden vibration. Lyneham is on a plateau and the approach is over a valley with pine trees growing on the hillside below the runway. When we came out of the cloud we were below the tops of the trees and had hit them as we suddenly aborted the landing. The vibration was coming from a bent propellor so we feathered that engine. The flaps wouldnt retract fully as a branch was jammed in the port side flap and worst of all a tree had hit the port tailplane and had broken the front spar and cracked the main spar The rear spar was all that was holding it in place and the Brigand pilot had a full view of duralamin peeling off in the slipstream.

It took forty stressful minutes to get to the diversion airfield at Tangmere where a fighter was sent up to examine our undercarriage prior to landing. Touch down - a little faster than usual - was OK and we all heaved a sigh of relief as we came to a stop. The damaged tailplane could be moved up and down by hand and we were lucky it had stayed in place. The Brigand pitot was heard telling his wife,If you ever see me with both feet off the ground at once shoot me as you will know Ive lost my mind!

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