The Last Bombing Run

They survived the mission; would they survive the landing?

White was acquainted with the pilot who had mistakenly landed this British bomber at a German airfield. German soldiers got a good look at the Handley-Page; the dog’s attention was elsewhere. (Drake Goodman)
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It was hard to accurately judge ground level; I hit hard, bounced fairly high, and came down. These ships had a bad reputation of winding up on their nose with pilot or observer or both crushed in the wreck. As we bounced, I kept yelling to my observer, “Jump! Jump! Jump!” I ended up standing with both feet on my seat, bending over with my hands on the steering wheel as far back as possible to keep the tail down. It worked. Burst left tire, swung around to the left, and stopped. Total damage: Scraped left wing tip and busted left tire.

The bump and bounce jarred the remaining incendiary magnesium loose, which left a streak of white fire on the ground under the gunlayer. He was out of his cockpit and across the field like a jackrabbit.

Nobody hurt, and the war was over. Terrific binge most of the following day and into the night.

White returned home to Seattle in April 1919. During World War II, he flew as copilot, ferrying B-25s; they were fine airplanes, he said, but for sheer joy, “give me an old Handley-Page.” He died in 1976, in part due to injuries from a car crash.

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