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Vampire nose wheel collapse on landing at Wonderboom Airport, Pretoria, South Africa


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Steve Emery
Nose gear? What nose gear? Ain't this thing a tail dragger?
Colin Seftel
What an amazing photo!
The de Havilland Vampire does have tricycle landing gear.
Here is an account of the accident by one of the crew posted on avcom.co.za:

Vampire damaged at Wonderboom
Postby Richard Smit » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:18 am
Without wanting to assume too much, as the accident will be properly investigated, this is what happened, and how it turned out... From my perspective, as the pilot.

The weather was CAVOK, with the wind calm, and 21 deg C. Runway 29 at Wonderboom.

Myself, and Captain Paul Pereira (A380 TRI at Emirates) onboard. Departed with full internal fuel, did a 35 minute GF sortie, and returned via a standard Initial, for a LH break onto downwind, and a full-stop landing.

Our approach and landing technique was completely standard... Normal in every respect, with us crossing the threshold at exactly 105 KIAS, at idle thrust.

When the main gear touched, I extended the dive-brakes, and lowered the nose-wheel onto the ground.

As the nose-wheel touched, I felt a sudden (half a second maybe) jerk, and the aircraft's nose attitude carried on going lower, and lower, and lower. It immediately became obvious that we had a nose-gear problem. I actually thought it had folded up. By now, we had run out of elevator authority, and simply had to accept the ensuing roll-out attitude.

I kept the aircraft straight using very gentle differential braking (didn't want to cause any yaw, or pitch-over), shut down the engine, transmitted 2x Mayday calls, and shut off the fuel, booster pumps, and all electrics/avionics. Strangely, this didn't seem rushed at all at the time, but it happened pretty quickly (before we stopped). As she came to a halt, I opened the canopy, we evacuated the aircraft.

We did a quick self check, and determined that we were both unharmed.

The fire & rescue services arrived very, very soon, and extinguished the remaining fire around the base of the fuselage. We opened the nose, and tried to disconnect the battery, but were unable to do so. I'll be sure to learn how to do this before flying again.

The technical crew arrived, put the nose onto a trailer, and the aircraft was towed back to the hangar.

The obvious, and primary cause was a sudden, severe shimmy, that caused the nose-gear assembly to break clean off the aircraft. Why this happened, is yet to be determined.

I'm very glad to have had someone like Paul in the aircraft with me, rather than someone who is not a pilot. His swift, appropriate actions made the evacuation much safer.

Thanks for all the kind, and supportive comments here on AVCOM. I really don't think this ended "okay" because it was a job well done (by myself). I still need to determine whether my piloting technique contributed to this accident/failure. There was quite some good, and bad luck involved here, and I'm pretty upset about the whole event. I cannot however, at this early stage, think what other actions would have been more appropriate at the time.

Would I be prepared to fly this aircraft again? Yes.
john cook
No it's a nose dragger.
Gary Butt
An excellent account of events, and a good attitude from the pilot, I'm sure they will sort the reason soon enough, still a bit daunting though.
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