We investigated a video that apparently shows an airplane successfully landing after losing a wing. The video was a hoax. A clothing company attempted a viral marketing campaign, and this video was the result.
The video was fake, but the question remains – is such a thing physically possible? We’ve all seen aerobatic planes making knife-edge passes at air shows. Is it possible for an airplane to make a knife-edge landing after losing a wing? Well, kind of.
The airplane would have to fly at a slower speed for its landing approach. Therefore, it would need much more engine thrust. Is such a thrust-to-weight ratio available in today’s aerobatic planes? I’m not sure, but I do know it exists in the world of radio-controlled aircraft. Keep in mind, some of these RC planes are one-third the scale of the planes they replicate.
We have three example videos that show one-wing landings by large-scale RC planes. All three videos are genuine, and demonstrate amazing skill. The three videos have a total of 214,000 views on YouTube as of this writing. Are you entertained?
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BONUS: The discussion of the one-wing landing caught the attention of the traditional aviation media, even though the talk is still theoretical. Peter Garrison wrote about it in the March 2009 issue of Flying magazine.