139th News

Aircrew safely lands aircraft with only two engines

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Owen Compton
  • 139th Airlift Wing
If you had asked 180th Airlift Squadron pilot Maj. John Cluck what type of flight he was preparing for Feb. 22, he probably would have said, "Nothing out of the ordinary." As events unfolded on the mission to transfer aircraft 1391 from the 139th Airlift Wing to the 189th Airlift Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard at Little Rock, the flight turned out to be nothing less than extraordinary.

Aircraft 1391 landed at Little Rock Air Force Base with engines 1 and 2 out. Most pilots agree that landing an aircraft with one engine out is something they will experience in their career every few years. But, according to Lt. Col. Brad Crabtree, 180 AS pilot, a two-engine shutdown is extremely rare.

"Landing with two engines out on one side is something I have heard of maybe four times in the last fifteen years," he said.

The story begins at 23,000 feet when a prop low oil light on engine 2 indicated, leading the crew to shut down the engine. Upon declaring an In-Flight Emergency the crew -- Maj. John Cluck, 1st Lt. Mark Hanna, Maj. Kevin Wood, Chief Master Sgt. Mike Reinert, and Master Sgt. Dennis Mowry -- started their descent to 10,000 feet. After descending the crew then acknowledged a start valve open light on engine 1 requiring immediate attention, to which Cluck asked Reinert, "Are you kidding me?"

The crew requested a block altitude and climbed slowing the aircraft to lower the landing gear. Upon acknowledging indication lights that the gear was down and locked the crew then shut down engine 1. Without utility hydraulics, flaps, half the flight controls, nose wheel steering and anti-skid brakes, the crew landed the crippled airplane fighting thrust-induced yaw, with an extended landing distance, all the while managing their multiple emergency flight.

The fact that aircrew members receive only simulator training to land a two engine shut down only added to the exceptional performance of the crew.

"Situations like these, are why we accomplish the training we do.," said Lt. Col. Dave Halter, 139 OSF commander. "(The Air Force has) entrusted a multi-million dollar Air Force asset and personnel to these guys, so you need people who can handle this type of a situation."

Cluck praised his crew.

"The crew did an outstanding job," he said. "They took care of everything they needed to and helped me do what I needed to do."