A brand new B-58 refueled all night with its gear down to make an emergency landing at first light.
The Hustler and the crew had only a total of 32 hours flying time. A student crew prepared the new B-58 for a training mission. On takeoff, the pilot noticed an “orange glow” at the back of his aircraft, but “thought nothing of it.” On departure, something went wrong with the landing gear. The pilot called air traffic control for help. A chase aircraft was launched to inspect the damage.
Because the sky was darkening, the pilot of the chase aircraft could not assess the extent of the damage, and suggested that the other pilot fly near the airport in the Carswell (Fort Worth) area, where the lights would give him a better view.
Over Fort Worth, the chase plane pilot communicated that part of the landing gear was hanging at a 45-degree angle. He also noticed that the plane was running out of fuel, and surmised that the fire that spat out the back of the plane before takeoff was probably due to a fuel leak that was igniting because of the afterburners.
The plane maintained its speed at an altitude of 11,000 feet. A decision was made to air refuel throughout the night, and then they would land in the morning, under more favorable visual conditions. The plane would fly to Edwards Air Force Base in California so that the bomber could jettison its stores and land on a longer runway.
The B-58 refueled EIGHT times overnight with its gear down the entire way.
The following morning, the damaged B-58 Hustler made in for a successful crash landing. The runway had already been prepared with a thick layer of foam, and emergency vehicles nearby.
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