A pilot ‘saved’ the ives of 18 people when he managed to land a historic aircraft after the front wheel failed to deploy.
Following the fly-past of Dutch city The Hague, the trip came to an end and the pilot, who remains unnamed, went to land.
But he realised that his landing gear was stuck and that only the craft’s rear wheels would deploy.
He circled while emergency services gathered at Lelystad Airport in the central Dutch province of Flevoland.
Amazing footage shows how the he touched down with the Catalina balanced perfectly on its rear wheels, allowing the nose to pitch forwards only when it was almost at a standstill.
A fire tender begins to spray the aircraft seconds later in case the impact had caused a fire but no flames were seen.
The aeroplane, which had three crew members and 15 passengers on board, was built in 1941.
It was on its return from a low-altitude fly-past during a memorial ceremony in The Hague commemorating the more than 6,200 Dutch servicemen who died in either the former Dutch East Indies or New Guinea from 1945 to 1962.
A spokeswoman of Lelystad Airport said: “Upon the warning all emergency services from the region, among which fire brigade, police and ambulances, were deployed.
“The Catalina circled several rounds to give the emergency services time to deploy around the runway. She then landed on her rear wheels with decreased speed.
“Nobody was injured during the incident.”
A fire brigade spokesman said the pilot “landed beautifully” and added: “As is customary the aeroplane landed on its rear wheels, after which its nose went to the ground.”
The spokesman said that the passengers disembarked safely after the landing.
The spokesman added: “They were enormously scared. They were checked by medical personnel, and afterwards drank a cup of coffee to recover.”
According to the fire brigade the bulky shape of the Catalina, which was especially made as a navy plane and can land on water, was a big advantage during the emergency landing.
They considered for a while to ask the pilot to make an emergency landing on water, but decided on the small airport in Lelystad as it was deemed safer.
The Catalina’s robust frame was correctly thought strong enough to withstand the impact.
Only the plane’s nose was lightly damaged during the landing but it seems likely it can be repaired.
It is not yet clear what caused the defect to the landing gear. The foundation which is responsible for the maintenance of the Catalina, as well as the aviation police, said they would investigate.
The Catalina, officially known as the Consolidated PBY Catalina or as a Canso by the Canadian Navy, was widely used by the Allies in WW II and performed vital transport, search and rescue, anti-submarine, escort and bombing duties.
Its excellent visibility combined with its long range and endurance also made it extremely suitable for vital scouting missions over the Pacific to spot incoming Japanese carrier groups.