by Willie Lagarde
Word had been passed, one of our fighters returning from a strike couldn’t get his flaps down and would be the last to land. We had witnessed many crashes of all kinds from our battle station but no one could remember a plane attempting to land without flaps. I doubt if the flight deck crews had either.
I was the only one in the gun crew that bothered to watch this one, everyone thinking this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Having seen hundreds of landings and knowing what a good approach looked like, I sensed early on he was coming in much too fast, he was in trouble and maybe the ship as well.
He caught the sixth or seventh cable and hardly slowed down. As he pulled the cable out to the maximum he hit Mt. 7 gun house, breaking off a wing. Half the plane from the cockpit on back broke off and stayed hooked to the cable as the rest of it spun around and continued to disintegrate. When it finally stopped I could look down on the pilot and see what appeared to be a slight trickle of blood on his neck.
He stepped out of the cockpit and calmly walked away from the wreck.
Footage of this crash has been shown in the movies “Fighting Lady” and “Midway”as well as the TV series, “Victory at Sea.”
In one of the still frames taken from this footage I can be seen watching the action from Mt. 5. Only the back of my head is visible in this frame.
Photo Choices: About to Crash - No Flaps