I was on this 6 May 09 emergency landing flight into BWI and found this forum in a therapeutic effort to try and get more information about what went wrong on our landing(s). I've found myself growing angrier everyday about how little info has been made readily available, specifically the public news articles that reported this as a rather mundane "tire blown on landing" story with no follow-up.
What I can tell you with firsthand knowledge is the flight was returning military members, most of whom had just finished 4-6 month tours in support of OIF & OEF. We got onboard in Qatar and picked up this aircrew in Leipzig Germany.
I personally recall an initial MLG touchdown that was so violent we bounced up and for a small moment in time were in a zero-g environment before the acft came back down hard for the second time on its MLG... quickly followed by the nose of the acft slamming onto the runway with such force that the front of the plane bounced back up while various paneling from inside the acft began to come loose and either fall on top of us or swing suspended by their electrical connections. The SEVERE nose impact jolted the emergency oxygen masks loose from several of the seat backs and caused the aircrew cabin security door to be jarred open. This pilot then throttled up the engines as this first landing attempt sequence was sending us drifting/pitching/rolling so far right of center runway that those on the left could see the yellow center line while those on the right began to shout alarmingly about the wing being in the grass. This is what I saw from row 6.
Somehow we got airborne again, and what followed was 10 minutes or so of absolute helpless uncertainty about our immediate future in a passenger cabin that smelled of electrical fire. Some passengers commented on smoke coming up from under their seats as the flight attendant passed back a fire extinguisher that thankfully did not have to be used. The initial panic amongst the all military passenger base was quickly subdued by the fact that we were again airborne, but with a sickening concern/uncertainty of the acft’s structural integrity. Then began the silence as most prayed, some held hands, and others wept… I think it’s safe to say most of us (me included) sat in anticipation and pondered the irony of surviving a war 6,000 miles away only to meet our maker while landing back in the US.
As we came in for the second/final landing, the flight attendants began to repeatedly chant in unison for us grab our ankles and lower our heads. Seconds prior to touchdown, the pilot gave the brace for impact, brace for impact, brace for impact command. We landed so smooth… in comparison, it made no sense.
Multiple trained military medical personnel on board responded to one injured male flight attendant (severe back pain) before he was expedited off on a back board via the fire truck ladder.
After the waiting we were shuttled to the terminal, cleared customs and waited an hour or so for our luggage.
At this time, the standard military gag order was issued to the masses as we were informed that the news media was waiting for us. We all did our part, shaking the hands and thanking the wonderful USO reps and past American war veterans awaiting us while stating to the news media that any questions should be routed through Bolling AFB’s Public Affairs office and how we were just glad to be home.
Try keeping 160+ John Q. Publics silent and away from lawyers immediately following this “blown nose landing gear tire” landing.
The included web link has a very interesting thread that alludes to this acft likely being a total write off due to severe structural damage and to which it’s stated the supporting photos will not be released until a later date. http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/4405287/1/#1
If anyone has information regarding how it is we seemed to initially grossly misjudge our altitude on the first landing attempt, then land so perfectly during the ensuing emergency situation, please let me know. Right now the NTSB and FAA web sites have little to no info for flight WO8535, WOA8535, WO-8535, or N139WA – perhaps when the investigation is done.