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Military Plane’s Landing Gear Jams

October 31, 1997

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A military cargo plane with jammed landing gear circled above Lake Michigan for three hours while its crew struggled to manually lower the wheels.

While emergency vehicles waited on the ground Thursday, crew members twisted bolts with their hands exposed to numbing cold as the plane flew at 4,000 feet.

The C-130 Hercules with nine people aboard landed safely.

``I wasn’t concerned that we wouldn’t get back on the ground, but a lot of things run through your head,″ said Capt. Joel Ludwig, the pilot.

The problems started as soon as the plane from the 440th Airlift Wing in Milwaukee took off on a training mission from General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.

The left landing gear wouldn’t lift properly after take off, and then wouldn’t return to a locked position necessary for landing, Air Force spokeswoman Gloria Cales said.

The plane circled over the lake as the crew scrambled to fix the problem. Crew members took turns twisting the bolts off of the landing gear with their hands.

Once crews loosened the bolts, gravity dropped the landing gear into a locked position and it was chained into place.

The plane finally headed back to the runway, three hours after takeoff. Ludwig landed the plane at a slight angle so the brunt of impact came on the right landing gear, not the damaged left side.

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