[Updated] U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy Performs Nose Gear Up Landing At Rota Air Base in Spain

May 23 2017 - 19 Comments

A USAF C-5 Galaxy airlifter has made a successful emergency landing in Spain.

The top image was reportedly taken yesterday at Rota Air Base, Spain.

Sent us by one of our Twitter followers (thank you @asetanton), it shows a U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy cargo aircraft, registration 86-0020, that was forced to perform a nose gear up landing at the Spanish airbase after experiencing an unknown failure that made it unable to extend its nose landing gear.

We have just received a photograph from Rota:

The C-5 after the emergency landing in Rota. (via anonymous reader)

According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, while on approach into Rota, as well extending the gear, the nose gear showed a “red wheels” indication. This told the crew that the gear doors were open but the gear didn’t move.

One of the Engineers ran downstairs to the fiber optic scope that is used in these cases to verify the gears position. The check proved that the nose gear was still up in the gearwell.

After that the aircrew ran the emergency extension procedures. One was to use the emergency extension switch located on the flight deck, and the other was actuating the hydraulic valves on their own.

The crew members tried these procedures in holding for over an hour where they finally had to turn back for Rota as they had reached the bingo fuel. The aircrew attempted to normally cycle the gear numerous times and they eventually got the landing gear to extend roughly 6 inches.

On the way in they ran the “wheels up, crash landing” checklist which included the nose gear up provisions. The provisions have the crew keep the gear up and the doors closed to minimize damage (as seen by the other times this procedure has been run). However, with the gear stuck partially extended, this became impossible. But with luck the wheels were far enough out that the Galaxy actually only experienced visual damage equal to what a wheel on a car looks like after it scraps a curb. After the plane came to a complete stop, the aircrew evacuated the flight deck and then assisted the evacuation of the 21 passengers in the troop compartment.

The wheels were far enough out that the C-5 actually only experienced visual damage equal to what a wheel on a car looks like after it scraps a curb.

Here’s a clip showing the Galaxy as it approaches Rota for the gear up landing:

The C-5 Galaxy’s nose gear is part of a unique tricycle-type landing gear system consisting of a total of 28 wheels.

It is a fine piece of machinery made of four main units fitted in tandem pairs, each with a six-wheel bogie with two forward and four rear wheels: the MLG (Main Landing Gear) rotates 90 degrees horizontally to be accommodated inside the gear bays when retracted after take off; furthermore, it is steerable for a 20 degrees left or right for crosswind landings.

Anyway, this was not the first time a Galaxy performed an emergency landing without an extended nose gear. You can find in the Internet at least a couple of videos of such gear up incidents.

The first dates back to August 1986, when a C-5A performed a nose gear up landing at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany:

According to the user who posted it on Vimeo, since Rhein Main shared the runway with the Frankfurt airport, and this gear up landing shut down the airport for at least a couple of hours.

The second incident occurred in May 2001 (we already posted a short story about it here), when a C-5 from Travis Air Force Base diverted to Rogers Dry Lake to perform a successful landing after the nose gear failed.

Top image via @asetanton





  • lovehandles

    Although that serial number is a B-model, it has been modified into the M-model, which is noted by the engines. Former C-5 crew chief, stationed at Dover AFB, RAF Mildenhall, U.K. en-route, and Rota, Spain en-route. Glad that no one was injured. Time to check maintenance history and put sheet metal to work.

    • RedDog

      A Travis C-5 also diverted to Altus in 1991 or may be 1992 for NLG up landing…if I recall correctly it’s was the A.C.’s first trip after upgrading!

  • Bobby

    That’s an C-5M, all the B’s are retired

    • John Williams

      Negative Bobby, All B models are NOT retired. We currently have both A’s and B’s while the B’s are being converted to the M model here at Westover. We are the last base to receive M models

    • They retired the A’s and converted the B’s to C-5M Super Galaxies.

    • iamrelaxin

      Not a true statement. The “B’s” were converted to “M’s”. A’s have been retired for the most part.

    • Herkfixer

      M’s are all modified B’s. So no, all B’s are not retired.

    • John Williams

      No the B models are not retired. not until they convert them to Ms. Still have a few A’S flying as well.

    • Wookiee

      The B’s, C’s and some A’s are becoming M’s if I remember right. There’s no reason to retire the B models since they are the newer frames.

    • Marshall Goodfellow

      Except the ones modified to -5M

  • John Caputo

    Can’t believe they blew the slides for the evac. No fire, no other issues…much more risk of pax/crew injury or fatality coming down that slide.

  • Dirk Pitt

    From Joebaugher.com

    Original construction in 1986 was C-5B.
    0020 underwent AMP modifications, C-5M conversion #17, remaining at Dover AFB. Returned to service. Mar 15, 2014 with 436AW at Dover AFB.

  • Marty Wise

    I was at Rhein Main when this happened

  • disqus_psntH3wGuy

    And they all walked away!!!! Good job pilot and crew.

  • Michael Lopez

    Oop’s. And since she is a C-5M, she has been rebuilt to almost brand new. Wonder what happened? This is a major problem since there are currently only 23 C-5M’s in service.

  • Jack___Hole

    Those are some serious slides.

  • Mickawber

    I miss all the fun…..and cursing….I miss boards of inquiry….second guessing and monday morning quarterbacking….

  • FoilHatWearer

    For the guy that posted these pictures to Twitter, he’d better pray that the Air Force doesn’t find out who he is. Two civilians posted pictures on a public website a few years ago of a B-1 that had a landing mishap at Diego Garcia. Those guys were prosecuted and fired. Posting mishap-privileged pictures is no joke.

  • Marshall Goodfellow

    That closed the runway for a while. Back in the early C-5A days, I was on a maintenance test team from Charleston working out of Edwards and we developed a procedure just for this situation. I retired in 76 and don’t know if it’s still in the books or not. Consisted of kneeling the aft mains until the nose raised up enough to get jacks in place.