Iran - The Nosewheel Incident, by Alan Hillman (1965)

One night in Teheran, a BOAC 707 was making a scheduled landing on the only runway suitable for Boeing 707s and jets of that type. As the aircraft landed, the nose wheel broke off. The aircraft continued its landing run down the centre of the runway, with the nose oleo making large score mark down the centre line.

Amazingly, the cabin crew seemed unaware that anything untoward had occurred, and made the normal landing announcements. The passengers were disembarked via the aircraft steps, which had been hastily dispatched to the runway.

The BOAC duty ground engineer inspected the damage and called out the station engineer, who remained at the scene until the following morning. The 707 remained on the runway, effectively blocking it from use by other aircraft.

It then transpired that an Iranian air exercise was due to take place that day, a fact of which we were hitherto not aware. We were told that unless we moved the aircraft, it would be bulldozed off the runway…

As we did not have any proper B707 aircraft towing equipment, it was necessary to improvise. The ground engineer decided that he would have to use two cranes, owned by the Iranian Air Force (IAF), to tow the aircraft. Both were attached by hawsers to towing points on the aircraft. The cranes were driven by non English speaking IAF crane drivers. An IAF Sergeant who spoke a little English stood between the two cranes to act as interpreter.

The intention was to tow the aircraft off the runway to the maintenance area for repairs to be carried out. However, as the runway had a downward slope, the aircraft gathered more speed than expected and started to gain on the two cranes. On seeing this, one of the crane drivers decided to bail out of his seat, leaving his crane stationary on the runway. Inevitably, the aircraft hit the crane, causing substantial damage to the fuselage.

The damage was severe enough to require a repair team to be sent out from London; it took a full week to repair the aircraft so that it could be flown back to London.

BOAC Boeing 707 G-APFG

Image: 707

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