Losses and Aviation Safety

Video: This Luftwaffe C-160 Transall Cargo Plane Nearly Mowed Down Spotters while Landing

Families, children and plane-spotters gathered to celebrate the final flight of Luftwaffe C-160 Transall 50+07 before being retired as an exhibit at the Aviation Museum in Wernigerode.

Brought to my attention by Andrea Arlotti, an aviation expert and a reader of The Aviation Geek Club, the crazy video in this post was taken in 2012 at Ballenstedt airfield in Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany and  features a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) C-160 Transall cargo plane touching down on a main road from where it bounced onto the runway, 30 yards away, as up to a thousand spectators watched in horror.

According to the Daily Mail families, children and plane-spotters gathered to celebrate the final flight of C-160 Transall 50+07 before being retired as an exhibit at the Aviation Museum in Wernigerode.

The drama unfolded as the cargo plane – which was being de-commissioned by the Luftwaffe – came in too low and landed about 100 feet short of the runway on a main road built along a raised embankment.

The consequence of this was chillingly spectacular but potentially catastrophic.

As spectators in fact lined the runway capturing head-on in film and video the moments of the plane’s final approach and landing into Ballenstedt airport, its nose appeared to dip quite low.

But horror struck as six of the plane’s landing wheels thudded into the raised road embankment causing the plane to bounce back into the air, with its wings waggling momentarily to the right.

Some of the onlookers closest to the road were forced to duck and dive for cover just feet (and possibly inches) away from its 131-feet wings and propeller blades.

The C-160 flew another 30 yards to the start of the runway where 100 yards further on its pilot brought it to a safe stop.

Some witnesses said that spotters were ‘suicidally close’ to the runway and questioned how the police and authorities could have allowed that.

The pilot Captain Jasmin Kirsch is reported in Germany’s ‘Bild’ newspaper saying: ’From the cockpit we couldn’t make out the start of the runway.’

Pensioner Herbert Dzienkowski, 62, who witnessed the incident said: ’After circling the airfield twice the aircraft came down.’

He described how the 44 year-old aircraft ‘ripped up’ the tarmac on the main road as it hopped with a bounce back into the air.

Even the police responsible for cordoning off the landing area appeared surprised as there only a few ineffective metal barriers and cones along the side of the road.

One group of people in a specially cordoned off area for photographers seemed most at risk.

A piece of close-up footage shows the plane almost on top of the cameraman, who pans to see the silhouette of the flight crew in the cabin just as the aeroplane skims the people in front of him – including the back of one person.

Wing commander Kai Gudenoge, spokesman for the Luftwaffe in Köln-Wahn, said: ‘The problem of the raised road does exist. Whether it is the only cause, I can’t say. We still feel the shock in our bones.’

He said the problem was not the plane but the insufficient barriers: ‘We had from the airport authorities the confirmation that streets should have been clear’.

Photo credit: BILD

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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