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Cheating Death by rOEN911 Cheating Death by rOEN911
On one occasion in September 1918, Keith's quick thinking and resourceful nature saved him from certain death. Whilst on a patrol, another S.E.5a struck his aircraft, catastrophically damaging his wing struts and altering the aircraft's aerodynamics. Instantly his fighter plummeted 1000 feet and went into a flat spin. Keith knew he was doomed if he didn't attempt something radical. So he stepped his left leg out onto the port wing, and grabbed hold of the strut with his left hand. Attempting to balance the aircraft by changing the centre of gravity, Keith continued to try to fly the aircraft with his right hand on the joystick.

With only 500 feet of altitude left he realised it was hopeless, but this activity had allowed him to guide the aircraft away from enemy territory and over the British lines. Just as the plane was about to impact with the ground Keith jumped, clearing the wreck and getting up to find he'd landed in front of a British infantry dugout. Astonished soldiers saw him get up, dust himself off and walk towards them as if nothing had happened. Escaping the flat spin, guiding the plane away from enemy lines and then jumping clear at the last minute and walking away from the crash is nothing short of a miracle.

Like all amazing tales of heroism such as this, there are different versions. The above was related from a June 1945 article by H.H. Russell in Contact. But the book By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson records the altitudes slightly differently, stating:

"WWI history records that: "in Sep 1918 when attacking German aircraft over the Cambrai sector a member of his formation collided with him buckling his starboard upper wing and forcing him into a dive. After his aircraft had lost about 2000 feet of height the dive gradually developed into a right-handed semi-flat spin. At about 5000 feet Caldwell climbed out of his cockpit, placed his left foot on the lower port mainplane and, grasping the port centre strut with his left hand endeavoured to balance his aircraft, flying it with his right hand and foot. Displaying skill and resource of the highest order he succeeded in guiding his crippled aircraft so that it just cleared the front line trenches and, just as it was about to crash, he jumped off and turned a few somersaults on the ground. He then stood up, brushed himself off and walked to the nearest trench asking to use the telephone."
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helderm Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
I didn't know this story. Fantastic.
uncledon Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
I was a mud Marine long ago and managed to walk away from a Huey that belly flopped onto the Tarmac of Tan Son Nhut Air Base when ground fire nearly wrecked the tail boom hydraulics. We got clear just before that bird started smoking and erupted in flames. I'd always thought that the 'any one you can walk away from is a good one' adage applied but this is simply marvelous.
'As if nothing had happened', seriously why dwell on the past. Can't change it, didn't kill ya so put the kettle on and have a nice bit of relax I say.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention that this is a great work of art. Glad I ran across it.
nicothai Featured By Owner May 28, 2015
Fantastic story i like it . Thank you very much.
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is both an amazing story and an amazing illustration.

The best thing is that I know for sure you can get an aircraft out of a flat spin using your body weight - that's exactly the way my flight instructor saved us from a flat spin in an IS28B2 sailplane - he unbuckled his straps and leaned forward over the back seat control panel, pitching the nose down into a "regular" spin, allowing me regain control of the aircraft and take it down for a safe landing.
I remember my hands were shaking so hard afterwards I tried three times to undo my straps and step out of the cockpit.
jlyvers Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I am thoroughly enjoying your gallery. This image is my favorite so far. I had to stop and comment on the wonderful field of depth you created and the mystery of your image. A wonderful and time capturing creation. This takes me back to my childhood dreams.
rOEN911 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks a lot,well i did this when i was noob so i am thinkin in the future to do it again because is an amazing story !
RadPig94 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's not a party 'till I crash a S.E.5a and walk in
sirodin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2012
Like a Boss.
rOEN911 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Tripehound Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Brilliant. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.
Friction150 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011
Cheating death? More like tempting death with delicious candy. Haha nice work, very creative!
rOEN911 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I post the story in the the Description ,its a historical accurate composite :D
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Submitted on
January 23, 2011
Image Size
1.1 MB


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