WW II Avenger Makes Forced Water Landing at Air Show in Florida
I'm always one of the most excited people when another air show wings its way to Sheppard Air Force Base. The opportunity to see modern and historic military aircraft fascinates me. Once you're there a lot of people are crowding the fence to get the best view they can, and there's a reason we're kept a safe distance from the actual flight paths of the air show aircraft. The flights don't always go as planned.
Over the weekend a WW II vintage TBM Avenger was force to make a water landing at the Cocoa Beach Air Show. You have to give props to the pilot, not only did he manage to ditch his his bomber in one piece, but he avoided several bystanders who were very close by.
The YouTube Channel Angle of Attack has a short clip of the landing from three different angles.
The TBM Avenger was the aircraft that George H. W. Bush, our 41st President, flew while in the Navy. They're designed for carrier duty so the possibility of a water landing was always on the minds of the designers and pilots. The Avengers typically carried a single 2,000 pound torpedo bomb and were used against enemy surface vessels but they were also known for taking out a few submarines.
Based on the outcome and the comments on the video it looks like this pilot did things well, coming in slow and steady, doing his best to avoid hitting people enjoying the day on the beach, and putting the bird down in water shallow enough that it could be easily recovered. Later video from Florida shows the aircraft being winched out of the water with little physical damage. The damage caused by being submerged in salt water will have to be evaluated later when the aircraft can be examined more closely.
According to all accounts the pilot received only minor injuries and nobody on the beach or in the water was injured in the incident. While the reason for this particular Avenger leaving formation and making a forced water landing isn't clear, what is clear is why we have to stand back from the runway areas at air shows.
I've had the opportunity to fly in a WW II B-25 operated by the Commemorative Air Force in the past and if given the chance I'll happily strap into whatever ride I am offered the next time we have an air show at Sheppard Air Force Base.