Losses and Aviation Safety

THAT TIME A ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE F-111 PERFORMED A BELLY LANDING

The reason behind the incident was the loss of the plane’s port main wheel shortly after take-off

The interesting video in this post features a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-111 performing an emergency landing at RAAF Base Amberley after wheel failure on take-off.

The aircraft involved in the incident, which actually happened on Jul. 18, 2006, was the F-111C A8-143.

Noteworthy the reason behind the incident was the loss of the plane’s port main wheel shortly after take-off.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, once the tower alerted the F-111 aircrew members, that were Flying Officer Peter Komar (a rookie pilot) and Flight Lieutenant Luke Warner (an experienced Navigator), about the missing wheel and after a two-hour period of planning, involving them dumping fuel in nearby Moreton Bay, they were told to attempt a belly landing.

As the F-111 aircrew explains in the footage, as their disabled jet came down, they lowered the aircraft tailhook which picked up a cable that helped bring it to a halt, creating a plume of sparks as it slid on its belly along the tarmac.

F-111 CA8-143 was delivered to RAAF on Sep. 6, 1973 and was modified to RF-111C reconnaissance standard in 1980. After the belly landing the aircraft had never been repaired and its fin and rudder are preserved at RAAF Base Amberley.

The story of the RAAF F-111s is quite interesting.

The Australian Government purchased 24 F-111Cs in 1963. These were completed during 1968 and early 1969, and the first of the RAAF’s aircraft was handed over to the service on Sept. 4 1968. However, the entire fleet was grounded in the U.S. shortly afterwards while serious deficiencies with the F-111’s design were corrected. The RAAF finally accepted the 24 aircraft during 1973, and they flew to Australia in four groups between Jun. 1 and 4 Dec. 4 that year.

Four of the F-111Cs were modified to RF-111C reconnaissance aircraft. The first, A8-126, received these modifications in the U.S. between Oct. 1979 and Apr. 1979; the other three were converted in Australia between Jul. and Sep. 1980.

The RAAF purchased four ex-U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-111As in 1981 as attrition replacements. These aircraft were delivered to the service in 1982 and were subsequently converted to F-111C standard.

In 1992 the Australian Government decided to purchase up to 18 ex-USAF F-111Gs in order to extend the type’s service life. 15 F-111Gs were eventually acquired, and they were delivered to the RAAF during late 1993 and early 1994. Three more ex-USAF F-111Gs were also held for Australia in the U.S., but never delivered.

The RAAF retired the F-111 fleet on Dec. 3 2010. Eight of the service F-111s (seven F-111Cs and one F-111G) were destroyed in crashes during the type’s service, with ten airmen being killed.

Photo credit: screenshot from video

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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