Pilot Lands A-10 Without Landing Gear or Canopy

There’s no argument the USAF’s A-10 Warthog (or the Thunderbolt II) is a plane that can take a licking and keep on ticking, proving time and time again it’s the “most survivable plane ever built”.

Its nickname is also the “flying bathtub”, which comes from the thick titanium encasement around the famous Gatling gun, and where the pilot sits. This construction is what allowed Capt. Brett DeVries of the Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron to make his dramatic landing.

During a routine training mission at Grayling Air Gunnery Range, DeVries fired his A-10’s 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger cannon during a  strafing run. It was then his wingman Maj. Shannon Vickers reported seeing what he described as a “doughnut of gas” around the cockpit. A moment later, the A-10’s cannon malfunctioned, causing the canopy to separate.

Due to its location just in front of the cannon, the A-10s landing gear failed to operate. The plane’s primary and backup radios were also failing to work, and it was unknown if the pilot’s ejection system was also operational. Out of options, DeVries decided to attempt a wheels-up belly landing–trusting in that “bathtub” of titanium to protect him.

After making a flat and slow descent, Devries made a smooth landing and walked away from the plane, uninjured.

Despite the damage to the plane (shown above), the A-10 was judged repairable, and will be back in the air soon.

Watch the video below for another account of a battle-damaged A-10 landing safely and let us know what you think in the comments!

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