- By Douglas Gantenbein
- Air & Space magazine, November 2006
NASM (SI Neg. #78-17901-15)
(Page 3 of 3)
The horrified ground crew dashed to the crash site and found Czaia clambering out of the jet, unhurt. The airplane wasn’t so lucky. In addition to the collapsed gear, one wing was crunched and the engine nacelles had substantial dents.
The team eventually traced the problem to a landing gear actuator assembly that had been machined slightly out of tolerance in Texas. The gear had performed flawlessly during hundreds of ground tests, but the stress of an actual landing caused it to buckle. Within a week, Hammer had tracked down an original landing gear actuator and started work on duplicating it.
By the summer of 2004, White One was flying again—this time without any problems. The second Me 262, Tango-Tango, was completed in the summer of 2005, and last fall was disassembled and flown to Munich, Germany, in a 747 freighter, where it was the hit of the Berlin Airshow. Tango-Tango also flew for a Family Day at the Messerschmitt Foundation. Organizers expected 3,000 people; 90,000 showed up. A third aircraft should be flying this fall, with the last two scheduled for completion when the Me 262 Project finds buyers.
After that, no additional Me 262s will be built. During the breakup between Steve Snyder and the Texas company that first worked on the aircraft, several key jigs for making wings and fuselages were lost, so the Everett group lacks the tools needed to build one from scratch. Instead, they’re tackling the restoration of a piston-powered fighter, a Messerschmitt Bf 109F that had crashed in Russia during World War II.
Meanwhile, the Me 262 Project still has three Me 262s for sale at about $2 million each. “It took far longer and cost far more money than I ever would have imagined, but we got here,” says Hammer.