STARS AND STRIPES STORY OF PARACHUTE AIR BRAKES BRINGS CRIPPLED B17 FLYING FORTRESS IN SAFE

Pilot recalls, orders ‘em set up in the Stage Door Canteen

A FORTRESS BASE, May 26, 1944—Recollection of a story he had read in The Stars and Stripes of an emergency Liberator landing in Italy probably saved the lives of the pilot and crew of the B17 Flying Fortress Stage Door Canteen when they brought the big shop back from Berlin on three engines the other day and landed with two billowing parachutes serving as brakes.



The unorthodox system was improvised because the brakes had been made useless when the ship’s hydraulic system, as well as part of the oxygen system, were shot out in an attack by enemy fighters over Berlin.

damaged flying fortress lands

A damaged B-17 Flying Fortress comes in for a landing in Foggia, Italy

Coming back to the base, 1/Lt. Arthur J. Bailey, of Detroit, Mich., recalled the story of a Liberator, damaged in a raid on Weiner Neustadt, in Austria, landing with parachutes substituted for brakes. He ordered the crew to try it.

Sgt. Alfred Paoli, of Chicago, tail gunner, pushed a chute out of a tail trap-door, while Sgt. Coral C. Higsmith, of Milwaukee, Wis., did likewise at a waist window. With the two chutes floating out behind, the bomber stopped neatly three-quarters of the way down the runway and the entire crew climbed out uninjured.

Stage Door Canteen, making its 20th mission in 30 days, flew back from Berlin with the propeller of the blasted engine windmilling violently and shaking the Fort from nose to tail.

Others in the crew were:

1/Lt. John J. Anderson, of Denver, co-pilot; 2/Lt. Lloyd A. Peterson, of Chicago, navigator; Sgt. William F. Coleman, of Summerville, Pa., bombardier; S/Sgt. Dale E. Moon, of Belgrade, Neb., radio-operator gunner, and Sgt. Walden W. Forke, of Blue Springs, Neb., ball turret gunner.

The Original Stars and Stripes Article:

SPEAKING OF AIR BRAKES, HOW ABOUT THIS STUNT?

AN ALLIED BOMBER BASE IN ITALY, May 11—A Liberator crippled in the Winer Neustadt raid yesterday was landed safely by the co-pilot who used two parachutes in place of brakes.

Flak killed the pilot and destroyed the hydraulic system operating brakes and landing gear. The bombardier and one gunner bailed out over Austria. Telling the rest of the crew to sit tight, 2/Lt. Ira F. Shober flew the plane home. He circled the base for an hour while the landing gear was lowered by hand, then ordered parachutes rigged in the waist windows.

When the wheels hit the runway the ripcords were pulled, and presto—brakes. Halfway down the runway the nose wheel collapsed and the Lib turned over. No one was hurt.



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One thought on “STARS AND STRIPES STORY OF PARACHUTE AIR BRAKES BRINGS CRIPPLED B17 FLYING FORTRESS IN SAFE

  • Bill Getz says:

    The rule in combat is “improvise or die.” What would be your choice? Some made it, others did not. That is called war.

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