Aviation Legend Bob Hoover Help Lands Vintage P-51 Airplane

A vintage P-51 airplane is flying above Mobile, Alabama, as part of its museum tour, when it damaged its landing gear. The pilot, Chuck Gardner, is faced with a dilemma of landing P-51 with just one tire. Gardner had tried all the emergency procedures, but it did not result any good results.

Gardner and his passenger on board relied on a fellow pilot to relay a distress messages to and from Doug Jeanes, the director of Canavaugh Flight Museum and owner of the P-51. The vintage aircraft has been with the museum for 20 years. The museum had spent eight years restoring the P-51. Doug Jeanes was in Dallas at the time.

During its flight, one of tires of the landing gear become more horizontal than vertical. It occurred to Jeanes to call up Bob Hoover, who is a veteran pilot and has a solid experience in flying the P-51. Hoover is a veteran military pilot. When he retired he continued his love of flying as an airshow and test pilot. For decades, he acts as the official started of Reno Air Races. He guides the pilots into a line while flying his P-51 before signaling the start of the race, then circling up to let the race go under way.

“Somebody would have a problem almost every other race, and over the years I must have talked down 30 or 40 airplanes that were in real trouble,” Hoover said in a telephone interview. “As a test pilot, I had more experience, probably, than most people.”

Hoover had experience similar problems with the P-51 landing gear. First during the World War II, then at the Transpo ’72 airshow at Washington Dulles International Airport, where he had to land the P-51 with one tire. He had succesfully land the World War II aircraft, he had stayed unscathed, but the aircraft had to undergo extensive repairs.

Regarding Gardner’s dilemma with the P-15, Hoover said the main wheel was not locked to the fuselage so he advised Gardner to keep performing a couple of maneuvers: an abrupt pull-up that can dislodge the gear with G forces, and a hard yaw to bring the force of the slipstream to bear on the stuck gear assembly.

It took an hour of maneuvering when the the landing gear finally dropped and locked into position, leading to a smooth landing.

Source: http://www.aopa.org


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