Watch: Three Military Aircraft That Flew Themselves – Landed After Pilot Ejection

Watch: Three Military Aircraft That Flew Themselves - Landed After Pilot Ejection
This F-106A (S/N 58-0787) was involved in an unusual incident. During a training mission, it entered an flat spin forcing the pilot to eject. Unpiloted, the aircraft recovered on its own and miraculously made a gentle belly landing in a snow-covered field. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Among the strangest mishaps in aviation are those where the plane makes off without a pilot.

 

Here 3 historic events in which plane flew itself after pilot ejection

1) 1989 Belgium MiG-23 crash

On 4 July 1989, a pilotless MiG-23 jet fighter of the Soviet Air Forces crashed into a house in Kortrijk, Belgium, killing one person. The pilot had ejected over an hour earlier near Kołobrzeg, Poland, after experiencing technical problems, but the aircraft continued flying for around 900 km (600 mi) before running out of fuel and descending into the ground.

2) Cornfield Bomber

The “Cornfield Bomber” was the nickname given to a Convair F-106 Delta Dart, operated by the 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the United States Air Force. In 1970, during a training exercise, it made an unpiloted landing in a farmer’s field in Montana, suffering only minor damage, after the pilot had ejected from the aircraft. The aircraft, recovered and repaired, was returned to service, and is currently on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

3) This WWII Ghost Bomber That Mysteriously Landed Itself

On November 23, 1944, a British Royal Air Force antiaircraft unit stationed near Cortonburg, Belgium was surprised by something they saw lumbering towards them in the sky. There barreling in their direction was an American Army Air Corps B-17 bomber, a four-engine heavy bomber so colossal and heavily armed that it was nicknamed the “Flying Fortress.” The plane was coming in rather fast with its landing gear down, and because there was no such landing scheduled and because of the speed of the incoming aircraft it was assumed that it was preparing to make an emergency landing at their base. A communication with the base proved that indeed no such B-17 landing was expected, and the gunner crew braced themselves as the massive aircraft came hurtling in towards a nearby open, plowed field.

It was a rather messy landing to say the least, with the aircraft bouncing and swerving along as the terrified gunners looked on, finally stopping dangerously close to the position after one of its wings clipped the ground, yet it was still in one piece and had not actually crashed. The aircraft sat there looming over the field as its formidable propellers continued to spin in a cacophony of noise, but as the minutes ticked by no one exited the plane. When 20 minutes had passed with no sign of human activity, and the plane just squatting there with its engines running like some growling beast, it was decided to go in and investigate.

The team warily went in, opened the entry hatch located under the fuselage and proceeded to enter, expecting that perhaps the crew had been injured or otherwise unable to get out of the plane. What they did not expect was that the plane would be completely empty. A full sweep through the aircraft showed that not a single crew member was aboard, although it would later be reported that there were signs that the crew had just recently been there and must have vacated the aircraft in a hurry. There were found to be chocolate bars unwrapped and half eaten lying about, a row of neatly folded parachutes, with none apparently missing, and jackets that had been neatly hung up. The superior officer, a John V. Crisp, would say of the eerie scene:

 

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