Drama as F15 lands on two wheels
A PILOT had a "miraculous" escape after landing an F-15 fighter jet on just two wheels during a dramatic incident at RAF Lakenheath.The F-15C Eagle plane was coming into land at the Suffolk airbase at 3pm yesterday when part of its landing gear failed – and one of its wheels failed to extend.
By Danielle Nuttall
A PILOT had a "miraculous" escape after landing an F-15 fighter jet on just two wheels during a dramatic incident at RAF Lakenheath.
The F-15C Eagle plane was coming into land at the Suffolk airbase at 3pm yesterday when part of its landing gear failed – and one of its wheels failed to extend.
Emergency crews were scrambled but the plane landed safely with no injuries to the pilot and minimal damage to the jet.
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It is believed the rear wheel on the right-hand side of the aircraft failed to extend – meaning the pilot had to balance the aircraft on the rear left and front wheels for as long as possible.
Last night Suffolk aviation expert Ken Blowers said it was a miracle the pilot had managed to land the aircraft safely, without one of the wings scraping the ground and bursting into flames.
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He said: "I would say it would have been extremely difficult to land.
"You have to make sure you keep the wing up as long as you can because you do not want that wing to scrape along the runway which would cause sparks and a fire.
"I would say he had a miraculous escape. It was amazing there was no serious damage to the aircraft itself."
The single-seat fighter aircraft was on a training exercise at the time of the incident.
A statement issued by RAF Lakenheath last night said: "A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle made an emergency landing here today at approximately 3pm after one of its landing gear failed to extend.
"The F-15C, a single-seat fighter aircraft, was on a training mission. The pilot followed standard emergency procedures and landed the aircraft with minimal damages and no injuries.
"The cause of the gear malfunction is under investigation. Additional details will be provided as soon as they become available."
Eyewitness Luke Dyer, who captured the dramatic moment on film, said: "I was at the viewing point and there were a number of F-15s coming in. I was just about to leave when one came in and I took a picture.
"I could see all blue lights at the base and went right up to the fence but couldn't see because it was misty.
The aircraft enthusiast, from Bury St Edmunds, added: "I used my digital camera and used the zoom. I worked out from the pictures the landing gear didn't come out and the plane was tilted on the runway."
An investigation was launched earlier this month after pilots from RAF Lakenheath accidentally released an inactive bomb on farmland in Yorkshire, which buried itself several feet in the ground and caused a hole measuring 18ins in diameter.
The F-15E Strike Eagle dropped the 25-pound BDU-33 munition near Holme upon Spalding, East Yorkshire, during a routine training mission on January 8.
No one was injured in the incident.
The accident led Shadow Home Secretary, whose parliamentary constituency covers the site, to call for answers from the Government into how it happened.