Thunderbolt Pilot Uninjured During Harrowing Belly Flop

A landing gear malfunction forced a pilot to initiate an emergency belly flop landing at Moody Air Force Base on Tuesday. The pilot was the only person aboard the single-seat jet and emerged uninjured.

The pilot “was not injured and evaluated by flight surgeons before release,” base officials said. A spokesperson for the 23rd Wing could not provide additional details, but said base leaders have launched an investigation into the accident.

The Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II was on a routine training mission when the pilot declared an in-flight emergency, according to Moody AFB officials.

Assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron, the A-10 is best-known for its Gatling gun, which is designed to shred tanks, and titanium armor, which is designed to take hits and keep flying.

The A-10C Warthog’s canopy is missing, while the ejection seat is still intact, according to Popular Mechanics. Two AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles were crunched during the landing. The jet was also carrying an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. None of the missiles appear to have the blue band that typically signifies practice missiles.

It’s not clear what happened that prompted the pilot to jettison the canopy, but an Interim Security Board is investigating the incident, according to Moody officials.

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