Right Main Wouldn't Come Down, But Airplane Had To
restoration of a Korean War veteran F4U-5NL Corsair got a bump in
the road Wednesday. The pilot, we're told, is fine; but the
beautiful big warbird has suffered some damage. Flying out of
restorer American Aero Services in New Smyrna (FL), the afternoon
shakedown flight went wrong.
We came back from a late lunch Wednesday to the sad news.
Ryan Keough, the National Coordinator of the Wings of Freedom
Tour, had sent out a message, and an ANN News-Spy
had relayed it to us:
"Well, I might as well be the bearer of bad news before you hear
it from another source. Only two days after starting the flight
test program, our F4U-5NL Corsair had to belly land today at New
Smyrna Beach after the right main gear refused to come down. All
attempts to get it down such as G-loading and blowing the gear down
were tried, but nothing worked. Dale Snodgrass, who was test flying
it, did a good job in getting it down with as minimal damage as
possible, but regardless we are looking at least a new engine,
prop, flaps, and various repairs in the wings and fuselage.
Hopefully we will have it back for the 2004 season."
Ken at the Collings Foundation said, "When we heard from them,
they were still cleaning it off the runway. This just happened an
hour or so ago." We asked for details of the Florida crash. "The
right gear just wouldn't come down," he explained. "They tried
cycling it, tried different maneuvers... they finally decided to
just put it down."
We talked with Bob Collings, the Foundation's head.
Bob Collings was philosophical when we talked. "I guess, when
you fly historic airplanes, you're going to ding one up now and
then. We just have a little more restoration to do on it, I guess."
[The restoration began when the machine arrived, in March... of
What happened? "They got the engine basically [turned] off, but
the prop was still windmilling. All four blades are peeled back.
Dale Snodgrass [pilot] really did a good job; he just 'mooshed' it
in. The outboard flaps, the ailerons, the wings weren't
The flight, this machine's second since its second
restoration at American Aero, should have been routine. "He took
off, put the gear up, flew around... the engine was smooth, the
prop was fine... this was the second flight, the first real 'test'
flight. He had left the gear down on the first flight. We went to
cycle it down; the left [main gear] and tailwheel came down, but
the right gear didn't. He did a pass... the tire was out of the
well, but it just wasn't enough. He went up to altitude, and did
some 0-g, and some 5-g pullups, to try to wrench it down, but he
just didn't want to fool with it any more. He pulled the other gear
up -- you don't want to land with it unbalanced -- and put it down,
Oh, the irony!
Mr. Collings noted, "They picked it up with a crane, and...
guess what? The gear came right down! We don't know what it was --
there a kind of 'pop' when it came down..." [Sounds like something
was lodged in there --ed.]
This particular Corsair, when it was restored the first time,
had a saltwater landing off New Smyrna Beach (FL) in 1997.
This is its second restoration...
It wasn't the first bad landing a Corsair has ever had, as this
November, 1951 shot aboard the USS Leyte (nee
USS Crown Point, CV-32) attests. No;
that's a different Corsair. [Photos courtesy American Aero
** Report created 9/26/2003 Record
Make/Model: F4U Description:
Date: 09/24/2003 Time: 1800
Event Type: Incident Highest Injury:
None Mid Air: N Missing:
City: NEW SMYRNA
State: FL Country: US
WHEN THE AIRCRAFT CAME IN TO LAND, THE RIGHT GEAR WOULD NOT
COME DOWN. AFTER TRYING ALL POSSIBILITIES, THE PILOT RETRACTED THE
LEFT GEAR AND LANDED GEAR UP, NEW SMYRNA, FL
INJURY DATA Total Fatal:
# Crew: 1 Fat:
# Pass: 0 Fat:
Fat: 0 Ser:
WEATHER: METAR KDAB 241753Z 07007KT 10SM SCT027 29/23
Activity: Other Phase:
Landing Operation: General
Departed: (EVB) NEW SMYRNA,
FL Dep Date:
09/24/2003 Dep. Time: 1800
Destination: (EVB) NEW SMYRNA, FL
Flt Plan: UNK
Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: DAB APCH
Last Clearance: UNK
FAA FSDO: ORLANDO, FL
Entry date: 09/25/2003 #