Er . . . oops?

A Mikoyan MiG-29 of the Belarusian Air Force recently had a major “Oops!” moment on takeoff.  It looks to me as if the pilot was planning a ‘hot-dog’ maneuver (which I’ve seen before under more successful circumstances), where the aircraft attains flying speed, the pilot picks it up just a few inches off the runway, then he retracts the undercarriage, so that it looks as if there was no take-off climb at all.  In this case, the plane just wasn’t going fast enough . . .  Watch the video in full-screen mode for best results.

I suppose it’s possible the undercarriage malfunctioned, but at that point in the takeoff run, I’d say it’s far more likely to have been pilot error.  I suspect the pilot’s future career prospects in the Belarusian Air Force have just entered a steep downward trajectory – but at least he’s still alive to watch their decline!



  1. The trick is to raise the gear handle while the Weight On Wheels sensors keep the gear down. As soon as WOW says that the aircraft is airborne the gear will retract. It is frowned upon for the reason that you see here. A small bump on takeoff, or a malfunctioning WOW sensor will cause the gear to retract before rotation is achieved.

  2. If you watch verrry closely – you can see that Belorussian Hotshoe Pilot misjudged his actual-liftoff point for the main gear by just a tad bit… dunno, maybe his up-angle rotation went up just a bit at the "critical" moment, and she settled-back a tiny bit, but – you can just see the plane start to "settle" as the gear starts to come up…and then – he's down, and sliding – a "perfect all-points landing"…

    Must've gotten REALLY noisy for a short while for him, until he pulled the release and punched-out – undoubtedly thinking, "Ohhh…S**t!! – OhS**tOhS**tOhS**t!!…"

    Not a "Career Move"…

  3. Reminds me of the shake down runs at McDonnell Douglas in Saint Louis. Apparently some wrote into the contract that each airplane had to demonstrate a minimum time to altitude (50 or 60,000 feet as I recall). They would tow the aircraft to the end of the taxiway. The pilot would clamber into the cockpit, start up and taxi onto the runway and stop. The nose would dip as the engines spooled up then the afterburners would light as the brakes were released. It looked like the airplane traveled maybe two plane lengths then stood on it's tail and was gone like a space shuttle launch. It must have been a wild ride.

  4. What Pinakeli said. Select Gear Up prior to takeoff roll, counting on the squat switch to keep the gear down until you rotate. One good bump or gust of wind that extends the Oleo strut just a touch and the little solenoid clicks and the gear motor sucks the gear out from under you, leaving you in a position where it requires almost full power just to taxi back to the ramp.

    What is Russian for, "Hold my beer and watch this!"?


  5. Yep, either gear handle up (most probable) or a WOW malfunction. 'Normal flight rule is V1, rotate, POSITIVE rate of climb, gear up… This guy missed one all important step… I watched an A-4 do that back in the day, only because the engine flamed out just after PRC… Sigh

  6. Why all the flames? I've seen video of Mig-29's belly in, and they didn't burn like that. Is there a belly conformal fuel tank now?

  7. Wil:
    Most likely cause is that the engine shroud is thin at the rear of the aircraft. As fast as he was traveling, with full weight on the shroud, he scraped through it, and exposed the fuel lines for the afterburners.
    After that, it was friction and physics…

  8. The other possibility is that the aircraft had just completed a maintenance check and the gear handle was in the up position before the pilot got in. I've found a gear lever in the up position because the avionics tech had to move it there to change a light bulb. Always do a 'geographic check' to make sure all the switches and controls are in the correct position before you turn on tbe battery master.


  9. MiG-29s carry a belly drop tank in the 'tunnel' between the engines. That's almost certainly the source of the flames.

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