Iv'e lived with this for years, Nightmares, reliving the Accident, It's all been there, a pretty Horrific Chain of events. They say that time stands still, it does as your trying to compute the enormity of the situation. A true horror as you think were going to Die, drop either of the wing's we Die as we spiral into the Desert below. Were trying to communicate with the American Air Traffic Control (ATC), there not understanding the Mayday the international call sign for an Emergency Situation, The Co Pilot had transmitted twice, the situation was getting worse, I transmitted, they had got it and I explained the nature of the Emergency, Next event..I had to come up with a plan, nothing like this had happened, for real or in the Simulator. I dispensed with ATC and became self Navigating, the Co Pilot had froze, I need you back in the loop, take the radio's, Engineer give me some answers.....! I'm struggling to control the Aircraft Next event...., think..think...crash land in the Desert in a straight line, improve the chances of survival. Crew prepare to crash land, over the intercom, passengers strap in...Next Event..... I now have to Initiate decent......slow power adjustments on the two inboard engines...then the external engines slow power adjustments...Descending, attempting to controlled the descent. I'm still fighting to control the aircraft, one more..drop either of the wings, we spiral into the desert below and die. Next event.... Load Master and General Engineer check the Aileron Booster Pack, which operates the Ailerons, very sluggish. Next Event.....Navigator put me at 20 Miles for a straight in approach, but must be 50 Pence turns, I'e small increments of direction change. Still battling for control, the ailerons are not responding, think...think..think.. use the inboard engines to make the turn, where this came from I have no Idea, but I guess, very slow power changes, helped. We finally with a great deal of difficulty and restraint on control inputs, made it to 20 Miles on the extended centre. Next event... line up for a straight in approach, which would maximise our chances, still the same, crash in a controlled descent in a straight line... Next event.....check the aircraft flight speeds, flap/aileron interface slow time. Stick with 5 degree at a time to 50%, no changes, lower the undercarriage no change, reduce speed to 140 knots stiffness worse, due to that I maintained 50% flap with a minimum 150 Knots for flight and landing, we are so far yet so near. Still crash in a straight line. Check and prepare the aircraft for Crash Landing, run the Landing Checks. So far yet so near, crash in a straight line, prepare to Crash Land, I was very slowly getting there we could see the runway and Fire Tenders and Ambulance. Still crash in a straight line. At 500 feet it all went horribly wrong, the aircraft started to drift, the ailerons where useless, crash in a straight line, Co Pilot on the controls with me, I didn't think we would survive, crash as close to the runway, we drop either of the wings we are dead what ever we did worked and I managed to crash the aircraft on the runway. there was no control, but but we managed a controlled crash on the Right Hand Side of the runway, even to this day, I don't know how I did it, luck was on my side that day and all 65 People on the aircraft survived. I've never hit the runway so hard..with a very loud thud and groan from the aircraft, I didn't land I crashed it in, then we stopped on the side of the runway, taking in the enormity of what had Just happened.
I went had a large coffee and some food, coordinated with the Engineers and over night they replaced the Aileron Booster Pack. I was in contact with the Unit Test Pilot, took a bunch of sleeping pills slept then the next day had some breakfast and a strong coffee and went and flight tested the aircraft and after landing prepared to complete our Mission.
It was a very long and hard flight, due to the soldiers significant injuries. He had stood on a land mine during the conflict and was in a pretty bad way. He was located in the middle of the aircraft with the Medical Team tending to him constantly. We where tasked out of Theatre and headed to Kuwait, Kuwait had already been recaptured and what remained of the Airport, available as long as you remained on the Concrete, land mines in the bondo. Due to his injuries we had to maintain the cabin pressure at sea level, due to the cavity damage of the patient. This meant that the flight took longer and would use more fuel, we flew form Kuwa it to RAF Northolt the transportation of the patient to a London Hospital. On Route we where ready to divert to certain Airfields if required. It was a long and very tiring day but the Patient survived, which it was all about.
I spent a fair share of my flying around the world but this was a pretty special trip flying the Hercules at Low Level in East Africa