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Wed, Dec 21, 2022

F-35B Crash Video Watched Over 8M Times

Vertical Landing SNAFU Makes for Engaging Timeline Fodder

The latest in a line of embarrassing moments for the F-35 ended up on tape this week, racking up more than 8 million views. 

In the video, an F-35B owned by Lockheed Martin, but operated by a "government pilot" attempted a vertical landing only to bounce, buffet, and crash in plain view of bystanders. The pilot ejected only feet above ground level, remaining airborne for less than 10 seconds before returning to earth. The unidentified aviator was taken to medical facilities and suffered no serious injuries. 

The footage made the rounds online to no real surprise, given the apparently slow, meandering lead-up to the crash. The vertical landing process remains a constant bugbear of the F-35 program, demanding high levels of thrust without the benefit of airspeed. The crash in question depicts the F-35 slowly coming down to earth before touching down in a 3-point landing. It appeared as if the shocks on each wheel compressed to the stops before the rebound lofted the aircraft again. Once airborne, the fighter pitched forward in a leisurely nose-down attitude, shearing off its nose gear and entering a grounded, nose and wing-down rotation on the tarmac. After it began to rotate, the pilot ejected safely, a maneuver that appeared to occur late to the average layman. 

The Washington Post called it a "bizarre slow-moving crash", showing a bit of the technical know-how inherent to mainstream journalists. While the company affirmed that it wouldn't guess as to the cause of the incident - amateur guesses range from a system failure to cut power to the main engine after touchdown to pilot error - the crash was an impressive show of the survivability inherent to a 0-0 ejection seat. The pilot was able to walk away, with no (reported) harm done. 

FMI: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/

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