On the 7th of June last year, US Marine Corps pilot Captain William Mahoney found himself in an unlikely and highly dangerous soup (not literally, of course). While navigating an AV-8B Harrier jet plane, Mahoney realised that there was trouble with his landing gear. All of this unfolded at the USS Bataan – an assault ship owned by the US Navy and named after the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines.
The aircraft was designed in a manner that allowed it to take off and land vertically, aided by its engines and four nozzles. However, when the time came for landing, they discovered that the landing gear in the nose of the aircraft was not working.
Thankfully, the US Navy foresaw an event like this, and have come up with just the tool that would help an aircraft with wonky landing gears land safely.
A stool. A landing stool, to be more precise.
And while we are being slightly dismissive of it, realise that it is a stool big enough to be able to balance the plane’s nose while it lands. Despite this, the fact remains that it requires expertise and focused precision in order to avoid damage to an aircraft costing millions of dollars, or, even worse, a board fuel ignition.
Captain Mahoney, however, was expert enough and endowed with ample precision to land the craft accurately and without any harm. Says he,
“So I’m at 20 feet stabilising and I can’t see the stool. I don’t even know it’s there. I didn’t see it coming over the end of the ship; I remember looking for it, but I never saw the stool. At that point, I was sort of just along for the ride.”
Some ride that would have been, though.
Either way, you should definitely check out the video below, and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, while watching the events unfold for yourself. Believe me, your breath will catch.