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Premature Wheels Up - Dave Gleen 11May59.
As told by Pete Jennings and Merv Hodson   

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In May 1959 a Danish Hunter Squadron was on exchange with 4 Sqn at Jever.  One of their pilots played a 'clever' trick of pushing in the undercarriage UP button during the take-off roll.  This meant that as soon as the aircraft lifted off, the oleos extended and the micro-switch completed the circuit and the undercarriage retracted immediately.  The result is shown in both the photographs above.  The danger, of course, was that the aircraft barely had flying speed and it was very easy to sink back towards the ground as can be seen in the picture.
Ron Lund took the top picture the day before from a long distance.   When he saw the same pilot lining up the next day he crawled out on to the grass and got the lower shot.

At the same time, on 11May59 there was a visiting party of UK Headmasters who were being shown life on the front line of the RAF at Jever.  Dave Gleen lined up for take-off as they were watching from outside the hangar.  Dave, unfortunately decided to emulate the Danish example and tried the UP button trick.  However, Dave was not so lucky and the Hunter sank back on to the runway as the wheels came up and his starboard drop tank was scraped off on the concrete.  An observer in the ATC Tower said that they watched Dave turn straight downwind and call for permission to land.  This was given but to everyone's horror Dave's Hunter slowly disappeared below the trees downwind.  It was a great relief to see him re-appear and land safely.

Merv Hodson was also watching this event from outside the 2 Sqn hangar.  He reports that they were screamed at by the Station Warrant Officer to "Stop giggling and get inside".

When Dave was "debriefed" in the bar that night, everyone wanted to know what happened downwind.  Dave's explanation was that he was so shocked with what had happened and what the bosses were going to say and do to him, that he did not notice that he was losing height.  If you are reading this Dave, please put the record straight if we have told it incorrectly!

Col Steen Hartov of the Royal Danish Air Force has researched this incident and reports on 8th August 2008: "It was most likely taken on 13 April 1959.   I spoke to the pilot in #2 aircraft, Villy Breinholt, a couple of days ago.   The squadron in question, 724 Sqn, had a reunion last weekend and one of his old mates gave him a copy of this very picture, reminding him of the event.

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