A high-speed porpoise on the runway

The video clip I posted yesterday, showing a LET LE 410 Turbolet aircraft landing in a rather, shall we say, impromptu manner, aroused a lot of comment.  Since many of those doing so came to this blog during recent years, I thought it might amuse you to re-post a video I first embedded in 2009.

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Iraq flew much of its Air Force to Iranian airfields, to prevent its destruction by coalition forces.  That didn’t help, because Iran promptly confiscated all those aircraft and kept them for itself.  Among them were a squadron’s worth of Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft, Russia’s answer to the US F-111.  They were absorbed into the Iranian Air Force.

Unfortunately, the quality and/or ability of Iranian-trained pilots left something to be desired, as evidenced by the relatively large number of crashes in that country over the past few decades.  That proved to be the case with at least one of the confiscated Su-24’s.  Here’s video of it trying to land at an Iranian base.  I wrote when I first posted it:

The video is of rather poor quality, but if you’ll excuse that, it’s worth watching. The pilot makes a pass at the runway, but doesn’t land. On his second pass, he slams it down willy-nilly, and porpoises down the runway until he smashes the undercarriage. Of course, this ruptures the fuel tanks, which catch fire. If you watch closely, you’ll see the pilot and his Weapons Systems Operator eject safely from the burning wreckage as it skids down the runway.

You’ll notice the plume of what looks like white smoke coming out of the back of the Su-24 as it comes in to land the second time. I think that’s fuel being dumped, which would also account for the burning trail left down the runway after the crash. Why, precisely, the pilot chose to do that at so low an altitude, I really couldn’t say . . . but then again, perhaps we don’t really want to know!

See for yourself.

Suddenly, that Turbolet landing looks almost smooth by comparison!



  1. you used the word pilot and yet perhaps a word other than "pilot" would be more appropriate?

    you are/were a pilot and are an author – there has to be some other word used to describe the person in the drivers seat….even modifying the word pilot with "clueless", "incompetent" or "narcoleptic" doesn't quite do it justice and casts a pall on others, don't you think?

  2. From the lack of a traveling fireball after the initial flame, I suspect that is not fuel being dumped. Might be a peculiarity of the engines at that throttle setting.
    Any prior military flyers have an insight?

    I've always wondered why Iraq sent their planes there. They were fighting a war not too long before that.

  3. Their level of pilot training went down significantly when we stopped training them after the Shah was overthrown. Just sayin'

  4. There was also a very large purge of the Iranian air force after the Shah was overthrown. The army had purges too but it was particularly bad in the air force from what I've read and heard first-hand. This became an issue during the Iran-Iraq War. They got their feet back under them and regained some real effectiveness and fought well even though they were outnumbered and were pretty much cut off from spares and munitions. The Iranians used some novel tactics like using F-14s as ad hoc AWACS. Somehow mounting US Hawk SAMs to Tomcats to use in the A/A role. The Iranians pulled off some impressive operations given the state of their air force. The raid on the western Iraqi airbase H3 was particularly ballsy.

  5. Rather puts one in mind of the "traditional" military definition of an aircraft crash-"landing": "Simultaneous – more-or-less – expiration of airspeed, altitude and/or ideas by action(s) (or lack thereof) of in-transit aircraft personnel…"

    Translation: A hard, hard rain's a-gonna fall…

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