Pelican damages F-111 mid-flight…
This “shredded” and incapacitated F-111 soared across southeast Queensland homes before a spectacular emergency landing at Amberley Air Base.
The jet was flying at 900m on a test bombing raid at Evans Head, northern NSW, when a pelican struck the fibreglass nose and was sucked into an engine.
The two RAAF crew are being hailed heroes at the base for their skilful recovery and landing on Friday of last week.
The damage, which can be seen in photo obtained by The Courier-Mail, included a hole in the wing. Aviation experts said flying the plane would have been extremely difficult because the whole aircraft would have been unstable.
A RAAF spokesman admitted the 30-minute flight path back to Amberley, 50kkm west of Brisbane, was over built-up areas.
The nation’s air combat cheif, Air Commordore Neil Hart, said the jet’s predicament and “precautionary emergency landing” was not serious enough to alert the public.
". . . No one was injured and their was no structural damage,"
Commodore Hart said.
“One engine was working fine, while the other was at reduced power.”
Repairs to the F-111 - one of 21 active jets - are expected to cost
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The F-111 fleet will be retired in 2010 when an expanded fleet of new Super Hornets is introduced.
The damaged aircraft is expected to be flying again within a month. The F-111 fleet, built in 1974, will be retired in 2010 when an expanded fleet of new Super Hornets is introduced.