Piloting Skill Saves Fortress

The odds on a safe landing were against Lieut C L Abercombie when the right tire of the 25-ton Flying Fortress he was piloting went flat at the end of his takeoff run at Sebring Air Base, FL. But his skillful handling of the air giant brought a successful one-wheel landing at MacDill Field, Tampa, which the pilot had selected because of its superior repair facilities.

After determining to attempt his landing at MacDill, Lieutenant Abercombie radioed the control officer to clear the runways. Circling the field several times, the pilot jockeyed the Fortress into position to land, trusting that the 56-pound air pressure in the left tire would withstand the landing jolt of the 25-ton aircraft and its crew of eight.

Manipulating ailerons and rudders, he gave the right wing extra lift and then, as the good wheel contacted the runway he accelerated his two right engines to further lessen the load pressure on the flat tire.

The Fortress bounced at its first impact. When it touched ground again the inner tube flew from the deflated tire and struck the right wing. However, the tire remained, in place.

One more bump and the plane was under perfect control. It rolled to a stop, unscathed.

This news clip was originally published in the May, 1942, issue of Flying and Popular Aviation magazine, vol 30, no 5, p 52.
The PDF of this news clip [ PDF, 1.7 MiB ] includes a photo of the B-17E with an inset of the damaged tire.
Photos are not credited.