Did you know two World War II planes stuck into each other midair – and landed safely?

The two planes after their miraculous crash landing
(Photo: Flying Officer Ian Frederick Rose)
Even the scariest accident can end happily, at least some of the time. One particular flying accident that got worldwide news coverage during World War II was about the midair collision of two training planes and their miraculous landing.
The two Avro Anson two-engine multipurpose planes were used for pilot training at No. 2 Service Flying Training School at RAAF Station Forest Hill in Australia. They took off for a cross-country flight on September 29, 1940 and made a banking turn at an altitude of 1,000 ft (300 m) as part of the flight plan. During the turn, one plane got under the other and the two collided in the air with a “grinding crash and a bang as roaring propellers struck each other and bit into the engine cowlings.” The upper plane’s propellers cut into the lower one’s fuselage, injured the back of the lower plane’s pilot and stopped turning, while the lower one’s turret wedged itself into the upper one’s wing root.
The two planes after landing
(Photo: unknown photographer)
The injured pilot and the two navigators bailed out, leaving only Leading Aircraftman Leonard Graham Fuller in the top plane’s cockpit. Fuller remained calm and found that even though his own engines were dead, he could still operate his ailerons and flaps. Combined with the propulsion provided by the lower, now-unpiloted craft’s engines, this allowed him to slowly maneuver the two planes stuck together. He flew another 5 miles (8 km) and performed a textbook belly landing in a paddock next to a farmhouse.
The two planes on the ground
(Photo: unknown photographer)
Fuller became the hero of the day and was promoted to Sergeant – but he was also docked a week’s pay and confined to barracks for two weeks for talking to the press without permission. He died in 1944 in a much less fortunate accident, when his bicycle was hit by a bus. Another participant, one of the navigators, also died in an accident when his plane crashed into a tree on another training flight in 1942.

Veterans Day Promotion

$500 discount on all tours

WWII veterans celebrated in Normandy
(Photo: Author’s own)
On the occasion of the upcoming Veterans Day, we are offering all our available tours with a discount of $500 if you book and pay in full until November 11, 2023. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, feel free to contact our travel consultants at info@beachesofnormandy.com
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