Above & Beyond: I Have a Flameout
- By Richard G. Woodhull, Jr.
- Air & Space magazine, September 2008
(Page 4 of 4)
The idea of a flameout pattern is to lose half the altitude over the field during the first 180 degrees of turn, and lose the remaining altitude while completing the second 180 degrees and arriving at the runway heading again. During the descending turn in the clouds, I caught glimpses of the airfield complex, but not the runway. Then, after 270 degrees of turn, I broke out into the clear. I looked ahead and to the left, where I hoped to see the runway, but saw only trees and farms.
Then I looked farther back to the left. There it was. The approach end of the runway was fairly close, but I had overshot badly to the right.
I banked steeply left while diving slightly to maintain airspeed and avoid a stall. There was a crosswind from the left as I rolled out toward Runway 32. I crossed the threshold at five or 10 feet, but with excess airspeed. Then, more good luck. The large main landing gear made almost-imperceptible contact with the runway, providing the height-above-the-runway information that I usually received from a chase vehicle. I was able to make a normal full-stall landing. The airplane rolled to a stop on the centerline with its left wingtip skid touching the runway.
With the adrenaline still flowing, I gave hearty thanks to my instructors and their excellent training. By making a dead-stick landing, I had just qualified for the 349th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron’s exclusive Silent Birdman club.