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A Plane’s Cockpit Smashed Into the Ground at 35 Gs, But the Crew Survived

A Plane’s Cockpit Smashed Into the Ground at 35 Gs, But the Crew Survived

Dario Leone


The pictures tell the story

As the C-5 crew turned back toward Dover AFB in response to their engine malfunction, they could little realize they were about to fly to controversy, aviation lore, and disaster.

Jay Lacklen is a former C-5 pilot with 12,500 flying hours and the author of two books, Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey and Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey Volume Two: Military Airlift Command. The following story comes the last book of the trilogy, in progress: “Flying the Line, an Air Force Pilot’s Journey,” book three, “Air Mobility Command, 1993-2004,” in progress.”

Dover C-5 Crash

Effects of the crash varied with position in the airframe. Some of the few passengers and crew in the rear troop compartment initially thought the plane had merely made a hard landing.

Due to the whiplash effect of the tail contacting the ground first, the g-forces of the crash increased exponentially moving forward in the structure. This caused the fuselage to crack at the bulkhead that runs through the wall at the rear of the bunk rooms in the crew compartment.

As the plane slid across the field, the fuselage began to break open at the bulkhead. The instructor loadmaster was seated against the bulkhead facing rearward looking across the table at her two students. Suddenly the table and the students began retreating away from her as the fuselage began to open up. Eventually, the fuselage section with her students wound up at a right angle to her and ten yards away.

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