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Crew Preparing Diamond Lil for Ferry Flight

Hydraulic malfunction caused B-24 gear collapse

CAF's B-24
CAF's B-24, Diamond Lil. (Photo by Bernard Delfino)

May 30, 2012 - The Commemorative Air Force's B-24 Diamond Lil is being prepared for a ferry flight back to Addison, Texas, after a hydraulic malfunction last Saturday that caused the vintage World War II bomber's nose gear to collapse during a scheduled passenger flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. CAF reported no injuries to the 16 people (passengers and crew) on board and minimal damage to the aircraft.

"As of today, the crew is working on repairing the hydraulic system and preparing to return to Addison, Texas," said Autumn Hicks of the CAF in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon. Once back in Texas, CAF crew members will work on cosmetic repairs and re-skinning the airplane to return the aircraft to service.

No time estimates were provided, since CAF want to make sure the landing gear is completely repaired prior to the flight. Diamond Lil is one of only two airworthy B-24s left in the world.

The hydraulic malfunction was detected during the flight, that CAF stated, and the crew immediately began following safety protocols to safely land the aircraft. After the gear was lowered using an alternate method, the nose gear collapsed on landing, resulting in minor damage to the exterior surface of the aircraft.

W.E. Carter, a passenger on the flight, told The Charlotte Observer that the planned 30-minute flight began at 3 p.m. But as the pilot prepared to land, the crew realized the landing gear wasn't working. The plane circled for about another hour as the crew cranked the landing gear down by hand.

"They told everybody, 'Tighten your seatbelt,'" Carter told The Observer. The plane landed on the main gears, but the nose gear collapsed, and the plane slid down the runway, where emergency responders were waiting and passengers were quickly taken off the plane.

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