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|Tuesday, March 9, 1943: Martin B-26 training
flight - Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Good weather for a full day of flying, which got underway at 0800 hours. 386th Bomb Group Operations Officer, Captain Hankey was flying in the co-pilot position of a Martin Marauder. He was about to check out a relatively new pilot in the art of single engine operation. Leaning over to his left, he announced that he was intending to cut an engine, "So get ready!" Quick as a flash the Captain pulled back the mixture control lever on one engine. The student pilot froze in position. Did nothing, in spite of some very well orchestrated phraseology as what to do; in a manner that only instructor pilots ever seem to master - still the student did nothing!
Frustrated and angered the instructor pilot was determined to show his student how to rectify this situation quickly. He reached over the pilots pedestal and activated the propeller feather switch, a brilliant maneuver - had he not done it on the power developing engine! What a predicament, one engine wind milling on idle-cut-off causing high drag: the other engine set on cruise power with the propeller feathered. Something snapped and the manifold pressure gauge for that engine fluctuated vigorously. With no further noise coming from either engine, aerodynamics came into play rapidly. Given that set of circumstances - the highly streamlined Martin Marauder transforms itself into a sixteen ton sheet metal rock!
Furiously moving hands were pushing engine control levers, switches, and grabbing the rudder trim crank as the engine was brought back to life. Then the other engine responded, but with much reduced power output. The aircraft was immediately flown back to base and safely landed. A post flight inspection showed the number one cylinder had sheared bolts and separated itself from the power section of the engine on which the feathering switch had been mishandled!
Wednesday, March 10, 1943: Too good to last, the bad weather situation set in again. Only one ship got into the air, Captain Hankey flew it on a weather check flight. Everything went fine until he was coming in for a landing, the landing gear position instrument indicated that the right main gear was not in a locked position. He continued in on final approach, and touched down on the left gear, then eased the right wheel onto the runway. The drag on the tire as it contacted the pavement caused the landing gear leg to snap backward slightly which pitched the tang on the strut top forward into the lock yoke. Then the down lock pin slid in behind the tang, and the gear leg was safely locked in position. The landing roll-out proved uneventful - the ship was taxied back to the flight line and parked.
Chester P. Klier