Tuesday, July 18, 2006

F1 -11 landing

A DAMAGED F-111 strike jet has made a precision belly landing at Amberley RAAF base after four-hour drama which began when it lost one of its wheels.

The plane's crew emerged from the aircraft seconds after it slid to a halt on Amberley's runway at about 2pm and ran to safety as firetrucks raced to dump foam on the jet.

The plane was slowed by an arrestor hook which caught an aircraft carrier-style wire strung across the runway.

But the plane's aluminium skin created a spectacular shower of sparks as it slowed to a halt.

The strike jet, based at Amberley, lost one of its nose wheels on takeoff at about 10am and circled at high altitude before attempting to land.

It is understood the damaged undercarriage was inspected in mid-air by another F-111 crew trying to assess the damage.

The crew chose to make a belly landing because of concerns that with one of the two nose wheels missing, the other nose wheel could twist sideways on landing and snap off the landing gear strut.

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