Pictures and report by Tom Carlson of Class 57-U <silverfox_44@yahoo.com>

-- BEFORE --
-- AFTER --

(Before) Someone snapped my picture with T-28 565, pulling chocks for someone else.  (After) Ironically, it's the same aircraft that I bellied in, probably a few days later. Although 565 was returned to the line after repairs were made, I don't think it was before we graduated, so I'm quite sure that this is really a "before and after".  Thought you might find the pictures and report interesting.

* * * * * * * *

We didn’t normally fly on Saturday, but this was one of those rare times when we did. (I guess we were a little behind). After an early morning dual ride, Max, the dispatcher assigned me 565 for a solo trip. It was January 19th, four days after my 21st birthday.  All went well until just about the first clearing turn which coincided with the first power reduction. As I brought the prop control back to climb power, the reduction gear in the nose case of the engine failed and broke the casting.  All the oil exited the sump and came out through the cowl flaps and other openings, flaming as it passed the exhaust stacks.  It scared the daylights out of me.  Any attempt to sound “cool” on the radio failed miserably.  I don’t know which was the higher pitch, my voice or the sound of the engine at take-off power, running away from the now disconnected prop. I decided that I had to get busy if I wanted to make it to Momma K's for the evening meal.  The emergency canopy opening feature failed.  Thank God for that!  I was really too low for a successful bail-out.  When the canopy didn't open I started looking for options.  Off my left side I could see the runway that I had just departed.  Out the front I couldn't see much of anything due to the coating of oil on the windscreen.  I thought I could at least make it back to the infield where I knew there were no pine trees.  I set up the 105 knot glide and hoped for the best.  I didn't attempt to lower the gear since I had no hydraulics and I needed all the distance I could get, preferably from a clean airplane.

I was able to make it back to the runway and touched down just about the 800 foot mark.  As the fuselage settled onto the runway, the prop hit the concrete and was flung up into the air, coming down and making a hole in the cowling in front of the windshield and chopped a hole in the right wing as it departed.  At the same time, the canopy slammed to the emergency open position, since the handle had been actuated to that position.  I guess it was a little out of adjustment.  Again, I am thankful for that since an open canopy would have altered the glide, and perhaps allowed flames to enter the cockpit.

I jumped out of the cockpit with my seat pack still strapped on and made tracks.  My classmates who witnessed it were still laughing forty years later as they described my sprint.  Johnny Edmundson drew a cartoon of Pogo, the possum, wearing a seat pack, running like crazy, shouting "Mr. Martin!  Mr. Martin!.  That cartoon is in the 57-U class book.

At the evening meal at Momma K's, I had to stand up in a chair with a napkin on my head, flapping my arms, admitting to a “hard landing”’ and proclaiming that I was a "Proud member of class 57-U"

565 was returned to service after some yeoman work by the maintenance people. My logbook shows that I flew four days later, after the usual trip to medical and the debriefings that normally follow such an incident.  In that logbook, the January 19th entries show 1:23 dual and :03 solo.

That's about all there is to it.  I'm still attributing the success of the whole thing to some extraordinary luck, some excellent instructors and perhaps some intervention from above.  With a total of about 80 hours at the time, skill and experience were definitely low in the order of attributes.  A half century and some 20,000 flying hours later, it remains one of the memorable moments of a career aloft.


The "before" picture was ironically taken by a classmate, perhaps just a few days before, or it could have even been taken the same day.