Na asta da event.Now that's what you call REAL plane spotting! Enthusiasts come within inches of death after military aircraft comes down short of the runway
- Crowd of 1,000 watching final landing of military plane on Ballenstedt airfield in Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany
- But pilot of 31-ton Transall C-160 aircraft suddenly reported she couldn't see start of runway from her cockpit
- Brought aircraft down on a side road where spectators were standing and they almost ended up being crushed
As lucky bounces go it’s right up there with the Dambusters – and only narrowly missed ending in catastrophe.
But this time it wasn’t the RAF dropping bouncing bombs on Germany, but the modern Luftwaffe inadvertently dropping one of its own transporter planes onto a busy main road, from where it bounced onto the runway, 30 yards away, as up to a thousand spectators watched in horror.
It was the plane’s last fight and one its pilot, Captain Jasmin Kirsch, is unlikely to forget – but for all the wrong reasons.
Families, children and plane-spotters had come to celebrate what was billed by the authorities as ‘the final flight’ for the 31-tonne Transall C-160 military transporter plane.
The drama unfolded as the colossal plane - which was being de-commissioned by Germany’s armed forces - came in too low and landed about 100feet short of the runway on a main road built along a raised embankment.
But horror struck as six of the plane’s landing wheels thudded into the raised road embankment causing the plane to bounce back into the air, with its wings waggling momentarily to the right.
Some of the onlookers closest to the road were forced to duck and dive for cover just feet (and possibly inches) away from its 131-feet wings and propeller blades.
The Transall C-160 military transporter plane flew another 30 yards to the start of the runway where 100 yards further on its pilot brought it to a safe stop.
Some witnesses said the fans were ‘suicidally close’ to the runway and questioned how the police and authorities could have allowed that.
Photographs and video footage of the unfolding drama show spectators throwing themselves to the ground to avoid the roaring 15-feet four-bladed propellers.
Film footage posted online captures the comments of those witnessing the unplanned bounce, with one man amid the oohs, aaahs, and gasps summing up his surprise with a German swear word.
The pilot Captain Kirsch is reported in Germany’s ‘Bild’ newspaper saying: ’From the cockpit we couldn’t make out the start of the runway.’
Pensioner Herbert Dzienkowski, 62, who witnessed the incident said: ’After circling the airfield twice the aircraft came down.’
He described how the 44 year-old aircraft ‘ripped up’ the tarmac on the main road as it hopped with a bounce back into the air.
Even the police responsible for cordoning off the landing area appeared surprised as there only a few ineffective metal barriers and cones along the side of the road.
The military plane, which has clocked up 12,000 flying hours in its lifetime is to spend its retirement as an exhibit at the Aviation Museum in Wernigerode.
The museum's spokesman, Madeleine Aulich, said:’Thankfully no-one got hurt.’
But witnesses talking about the incident on the internet are concerned – particularly with cars parked up close along the road which bi-sects the airfield about 100feet short of the start of the runway.
One said:’There was nearly a catastrophe with fatalities.’
Another noted that it was ‘suicidal’ for spectators to go – or even be allowed to go – so close pointing out: ’That’s a 5.5metre propeller blade in front of the wing.’
A third said: ’Be glad the undercarriage tyres held up on impact and there were no bits and pieces flying around people’s ears.’
One group in a specially cordoned off area for photographers seemed most at risk.
A piece of close-up footage shows the plane almost on top of the cameraman, who pans to see the silhouette of the flight crew in the cabin just as the aeroplane skims the people in front of him – including the back of one person.
One observer called Harry Klein noted: ’Whoever on the ground allowed spectators to go so close should be heavily fined.’
The Luftwaffe said they were investigating the issue of the raised road.
Wing commander Kai Gudenoge, spokesman for the Luftwaffe in Köln-Wahn, said: ‘The problem of the raised road does exist. Whether it is the only cause, I can’t say. We still feel the shock in our bones.’
He said the problem was not the plane but the insufficient barriers: ‘We had from the airport authorities the confirmation that streets should have been clear’.
The Transall C-160 which has a crew of three and can carry up to 93 troops was built by a French-German consortium Transporter Allianz and has been in service around the world – including Afghanistan - since 1965 with the German, French and South African military with some 214 built until 1985.