Friday, October 2, 2020
How the heck did he land that plane safely???
Readers are doubtless aware of the mid-air collision a few days ago between a US Marine Corps F-35B strike aircraft and a KC-130J tanker aircraft during air-to-air refueling. The pilot of the F-35B ejected safely before his aircraft crashed, while the KC-130J's pilot was able to crash-land in a farm field, saving the lives of all on board.
That landing must have taken extraordinary skill. Just look at the KC-130J on the ground. Click the image for a larger view.
Both starboard (right side) propellers have been completely destroyed, and the outer port (left side) propeller has been severely damaged, missing at least one blade and showing damage to at least four more. The only propeller left intact is the port inner one. In addition, there's a fuel leak outboard of the port outer engine, where the underwing tank was formerly located (and presumably ripped off during the collision). The photograph must have been taken very soon after the crash landing, because fuel is pouring out of the leak in a steady stream.
Given damage that severe to what was probably a heavily laden aircraft, the mind boggles that the pilot was able to crash-land it safely with only one working engine, with so little visible damage from its impact with the ground. I bet the rest of the crew were lining up to buy him/her beers afterwards! I won't be surprised if he/she earns a medal for airmanship, too.
That must have been a pretty sporty, brown-trouser moment for all concerned, in both aircraft. I'm glad they all made it out alive.