When Highway Landings Go Wrong: A-10 Demolishes Road Sign During Exercise In Estonia

Beware of road signs when you land your combat aircraft on a public road!

On Aug. 10, one of the ten A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, performing landing and take off training from an extension of Jägala-Käravete Highway, a portion of the longer road known as Piibe Highway, in Northern Estonia, hit and damaged a road sign at roughly 3.15 PM local time.

Although the Warthog, carrying a dummy AGM-85 Maverick missile and a Litening ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod) did not suffer significant damage (the Thunderbolt II is an extremely sturdy plane, able to survive much more than a few scrapes) and was able to take off again later on, the highway remained closed until the following morning.

The incident is under investigation; based on the photographs it seems that the aircraft (AF 79-0108) may have approached the extension a bit too low and hit (with the right hand wing) the road sign along with a plastic barrier that marks the beginning of the highway section used as runway.

You can find several interesting shots here.

Top composite image made by editing shots by Mihkel Maripuu/Postimees.ee and Ardi Hallismaa/mil.ee

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

9 Comments

  1. Western European NATO members have long had highway specification enabling potential use as runways if airbase runways were taken out during an attack. The pilot wasn’t injured and the aircraft will be repaired. You sometimes learn such things during exercises.

  2. Yea well a lot of talented maintainers were their to nurse 108 back into the sky….oh and one ballsy pilot. Nothing the hog can’t handle, even a sign and some plastic.

  3. Reminds me of the time we were practicing B52 carrier landings. Co-pilot needed a Night Touch & Go. These maneuvers required an instructor-pilot in the seat, and I had just gotten my ticket so we were good to go.

    On close final I chided his flying as being “full of slop”, but he heard “Full Stop” and, trying to make amends, immediately dropped our behemoth down. (Slammed all 8 throttles to idle, airbrakes to 6) then deployed our gigantic dragchute–all before I could even move! (Wrong on so many levels, my brain wouldn’t let my extremities intervene.)

    We hit with a twisty, grating scrunch as our trucks and ECM caught, then ripped out arresting gear while the nose’s TA and radar pods then atomized the deck’s final wire and barrier. Lunging for the controls, I grabbed the wheel, reconfigured and then finally recovered control just as we left the deck.

    I looked over and Co was frozen stiff, his fingers in a death grip on the wheel. So, with wipers slapping the spray, and salt water billowing out of the bomb bay and blowing off the fuselage, I finally made the giant aircraft fly at around 40 feet above sea level.

    Consequences? I lost my IP rating and Co was transferred to A-10s in the Maryland Nat’l Guard…

  4. Same incident probably would have caused an Su-25 to lose a wing or torn out most of the undercarriage/landing gear.

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