This Photo Shows A C-5A Galaxy After It Performed A Gear Up Landing At Travis AFB in 1983

A belly landing for a giant C-5 Galaxy.

The photo in this post was taken by one of our readers, Tyll Parker, at Travis Air Force Base, California, in July 1983.

Parker was a Lieutenant with the 1901st Comm Group at the time and the shot after he saw the C-5A 68-0216 just sitting there at the end of the runway, after a successful gear up landing.

“It was unusual to be there and I noticed one wing was low. So I drove along the perimeter road and took some pictures. I had heard a little about the landing from an ATC guy. (Air traffic control was under The 1901st) This was close to the 60 MAW ORI/MEI that year. Did nothing to help the CO…,” says Tyll in an email to The Aviationist.

The accident occurred as the Galaxy was performing touch-and-goes: during the final approach of the day, the crew did not lower the landing gear resulting in a belly landing and significant damage to the lower fuselage and main landing gear pods. Based on some articles published by newespaper at the time of the event, the crew had silenced the warning horns for the landing gear warning system by pulling the circuit breakers during the pattern work and forgot to reset the breakers on final approach.

According to the available details, the aircraft was flown to Marietta for repairs and, while there, was selected to become the first C-5A to be converted to the C-5C configuration.

As we have reported several times here, 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.

You can find several interesting videos online, not only showing the MLG at work but also a few gear up incidents.

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

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.

More recently, a U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy, registration 86-0020, performed a nose gear up landing at the Spanish airbase after experiencing an unknown failure that made it unable to extend its nose landing gear.

The C-5M that performed a nose gear up landing at Rota, Spain, in May 2017 (image via a reader who wishes to remain anonymous)

Top image credit: Tyll Parker

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.