You’ve heard blurbs about it, but didn’t know if it was folklore or true. Here’s the proof. Big airplane, little runway, 12/13/69. Film owned by Boeing, narrated by Captain Paul Havis. For educational & non commercial purposes only. Be sure to check my channel for the best in VINTAGE & RARE airliner videos!

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35 COMMENTS

  1. Hey come on, any landing you can walk away from, is a good one. As I've got 14k hours of flight time, I should know!! LOL. As long as no one got hurt, that's all that mattered.

  2. I am having trouble with this one. WTF is a concrete embankment doing ON a runway? Clearly, from this video, the plane touches down on the runway. What are we missing???

  3. I just hope that capt. ain't flying any more! He's a concrete barrier killer! And even though there was no fire or catastrophic damage I just want to blame – by default – this whole accident on cannabis. Yeah-yeah! It's Schedule I baby…a killer! You jump off buildings!

  4. I was an aeronautical engineer working for Boeing at Renton when this happened. This happened the day after Pan Am took delivery of its first 747 (N733PA on Friday, 12/12/69), and I was at Renton on the Saturday (12/13/69) when this incident happened. We knew they were going to fly four of the test-flight 747's to Renton to get them refitted for delivery to Pan Am and TWA and we went out to watch them bring in the first one. I was standing along the west side of the runway, camera in hand, when this happened. I was looking through the viewfinder and focusing when parts starting flying all around. I thought it was going to swerve towards me, and I was too close to get away. Ralph Cokely did a great job keeping it under control and on the runway. We did joke about how they were going to take the damage out of his salary and I imagine he felt he had to leave for Lockheed. I have heard all kinds of stories about what caused this incident. I think it was just being the first guy to try to get that big airplane onto that short runway, and being a little low. The north end of the runway at Renton pretty much ends where Lake Washington begins and there was a berm right there.

  5. I find it truly fascinating how there's so many comments from people who were so close to this event when it happened over 40 years ago!

  6. With the right hand gear gone, there was NO doubt it would pull up in time on that short runway with all that friction! LOL

  7. Sutter pointed out that the pilot was skeptical that the 747 could land on the short Renton runway, even after the engineers assured him that it was possible. He attempted to land so short that the landing gear caught the seawall at the end of the runway. Also he said that the pilot put the engines into reverse, even as they were scraping on the ground, probably not a good idea. That is why the engines are surging.

  8. I was in the landing pattern behind this 747 flying a Cessna 182 with failed radio. Had called Renton Tower ahead of time by phone from the old Bellevue airport. At Mercer Island (north end?)  as arranged I flashed landing lights and and got light gun clearance to proceed with no other traffic – except the 747. The view was incredible, I probably watched it unfold a few seconds longer than was appropriate, when I turned to look at the tower: I really expected it to run off the runway as it veered left. Red Red Red:  Go away command. So I did. At the time I did not realize that there were probably only 3 flying 747 aircraft.

  9. That plane was operated by Ralph Cokely and my father John W. Harder.  I remember the incident quite well as the plane flew over me on the south end of Mercer Island. It was amazing to see a plane of that size then, and as low as it was, we thought we could easily reach out and touch it.

  10. I had the pleasure of doing a ferry flight with the great Jim Gannett. He very uncharacteristically started telling wonderful stories of his days flying A-26's in Korea, Boeing, rolling the -720 with Tex Johnson and other experiences. For once I had the sense to just keep quite and listen. He said he was originally supposed to do that flight, but was in LA on company business or something. He rushed to get back to Seattle as he knew the pilot was worried about doing the flight. When he arrived at Sea-Tac, he hurried to the nearest pay phone (pre-cell days) to call dispatch and let them know he was back and would do the the fight but was told they had just departed. He said he had told the pilot to just make a controlled approach and aim for the 1000 foot stripes as normal and don't try to land short. He commented that the plane was plenty light, and the physics were fine. The pilot didn't do that, and this is the result.

  11. In his memoir 747, Joe Sutter provides several relevant details about this flight (pp. 194-197):

    * The ship involved was RA003. (Sutter does not mention that, after repairs, it went to Pan Am as N732PA "Clipper Ocean Telegraph.")
    * It was going to Renton to have test equipment removed and an airline interior installed. The Everett plant was too busy at the time to accommodate all the relevant work and some of it had been shifted to Renton.
    * The original pilot intended for this flight was out of town on another job that day and was replaced by Ralph Cokely.
    * Cokely was very nervous about landing the 747 at Renton. To ease his mind, one of Sutter's engineers did an impromptu presentation on the 747's landing performance to show that, in its test configuration, RA003 would have no problems with this landing. Cokely didn't seem to believe it.
    * Sutter flew along in the jump seat at the suggestion of one of his team, to watch the short-field landing.
    * During the landing, Sutter noticed that Cokely remained nervous and was obsessed with conserving as much runway as possible.
    * Afterwards, Cokely left Boeing for Lockheed, where he tested the L-1011. It is not said if he was fired or quit.

  12. Any landing you can walk away from – is a good landing. He just touched down a shade low and kissed that concrete embankment. Still – other than the landing gear – damage was minor. Otherwise he could have stopped – even on that short runway. 

  13. has enough time passed and enough other airlines had unfortunate incidents for the narrator to admit that this scenario can happen with "any other airline". The true pride seems to be with the narrator. Humility is a nobler trait. Thank you for showing the footage. It was educational. Remember that only the company itself is not defunct and not all the people have gone to their graves yet. Kudos to the pilot for maintaining control of the aircraft and keeping his passengers from bad injuries.

  14. I got to work on this plane, and the other 4 flight test 747's They all flew into Renton to be totally stripped, reengineered , and rebuilt from the ground up prior to join their respective fleets again…This was the only one that had trouble getting into Renton, and as I recall within 24 hours it was out of public view…great project to be involved in

  15. I've lived in Renton my whole life and I have never seen a 747 at Boeing field in Renton.  (That is where they make 737's today and back in those days they made the 707/727/737 there.  That is a very very short runway for a 747.  I didn't think it was possible to land a 747 at that short of a runway but I guess they tried it for the last time on that day.

  16. That,s correct…It was flown by Ray Cokely,he was laid off after this incident and went to Lockheed.But there was one more detail…Joe Sutter was on this flight as well..

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