Berlin’s Schönefeld airport was shut for more than an hour yesterday afternoon after the EADS historic flight’s Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10 ‘Black Two’ – piloted by Walter Eichhorn – groundlooped onto the grass after landing on the tarmac following the aircraft’s ILA2008 display.
The starboard undercarriage leg of the “Augsburg Eagle” as the type is known, collapsed causing the starboard wing tip and the propeller to strike the ground – stopping the engine – as the aircraft completed a 120-degree ground-loop to starboard. At the time of writing, it is not known whether the undercarriage leg collapsed before the aircraft left the runway, out of control – or whether the collapse was caused by the groundloop itself.
An EADS spokesman said that an investigation was underway and it was believed that the damage to the aircraft was relatively light. The aircraft was lifted back onto its undercarriage – using airbag technology – and was then wheeled back to dispersal. This particular Messerschmitt is a ‘hybrid’ airframe, using the fuselage from a Bf 109G-10 and the wings from a Spanish-built Hispano HA-1112-M1L Buchon which originally had a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
Helicopter pilot and photographer Thilo Petry was taking shots of the ME262 in the regular flying display when he heard shouts and saw the World War II classic Bf 109G careering across the grass “I saw the starboard wing tip hit the ground and I kept taking photographs until the dust cleared. I saw the pilot climbing out of the cockpit almost immediately.”
The Bf 109 is a notoriously difficult aircraft to land, especially on Tarmac, as many young, freshly-trained pilots discovered during the Second World War when the attrition rate from landing accidents was often greater than that from air-to-air combat against Spitfires and Hurricanes.
The ‘Augsburg Eagle’ – was praised for its flying characteristics – but feared for its landing behaviour, even when alighting on the grass surfaces it was originally designed for in the 1930s.
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