I landed gear up

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by PaulMillner, Sep 25, 2021.

  1. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    I had the classic distracted pilot gear-up experience last Sunday, September 19, on runway 28R at Oakland… I was giving an Alameda Aero Club student a Cardinal RG ride to lunch, as he is interested in buying one. We flew OAK – EDU – 1O2 – EDU – OAK. Along the way, he asked what happened if you forgot to lower the gear, and I demonstrated, by retarding the throttle briefly, that the gear horn sounded. I also admonished him that if he *ever* heard the gear horn, or noticed the green lights weren’t lit at landing, he should tell the pilot. I explained there are too many YouTube videos of folks approaching to land, the gear horn plainly audible in the YouTube video, right up until the grinding sounds begin.

    As we were handed off over Concord from Travis Approach to NorCal Approach, the NorCal controller cautioned us that an aircraft five miles ahead of us had reported moderate turbulence. That was unexpected and seemed unlikely, but as we begin our descent for Oakland, I throttled way back to keep our airspeed in the descent below maneuvering speed… out of an abundance of caution. The result of this was I was at a very low airspeed, comparable to my normal approach speed AFTER lowering flaps and gear… so I was not prompted by airspeed to lower flaps and gear.

    As we neared OAK, my passenger asked why I hadn’t requested the crosswind runway, 33, as it leads directly to my hangar. I explained that I often landed 33, but that my personal minimums were to avoid the shorter, narrower 33 with a passenger on board if the crosswind was greater than 10 knots… and last Sunday, the crosswind was 15 knots. I then advised tower I was planning a long landing on 28R, and that was approved. That occasioned more questions… and I explained that 28R is almost 5,500’ long, and I only needed 1,000’ to land… so I’d fly down the runway to the 2,000’ remaining marker, touchdown, and be off the runway sooner with less taxi time.

    All this non-sterile cockpit had its price… as we neared touchdown, a fiberglass flurry from our Hartzell composite prop began as the concrete runway surface started chewing it up. Then there was a grinding, sliding experience of about 300’ and we came to rest just before taxiway P.

    I keyed up and told Tower we had landed gearup on 28R, obstructing the runway. The Tower began to ask the souls on board etc. questions when black smoke began emanating from the panel. Master off, both doors open, strong directive language to the passenger to evacuate the cabin…

    We were met by four fire engines and two Port of Oakland supervisors in pickup trucks. One of the pickups eventually took my passenger back to his car at the Old T’s parking. After about an hour, a crane appeared, and with a canvas sling on the crankshaft aft of the prop, and another under the belly aft of the rear window, my Cardinal was once again in the air, at least momentarily. I opened the cabin door, turned off the avionics master, turned on the master, and the gear horn began dutifully sounding. I selected gear down, and the gear extended and locked per usual. Signature towed my aircraft back to my hangar, a contractual obligation they have to the Port to clear the runways as necessary, so no charge for that. The crane cost me (or hopefully the insurance company) $1,100 for a Sunday call out, two-hour minimum. We did *not* lift the aircraft by the lifting loop on the engine though I’d removed the upper cowling during the crane wait. The removal was wise, as otherwise the sling might have damaged the cowling. But it's since been explained that the engine loop was designed to lift the weight of the engine, NOT the weight of the entire aircraft… and that the loops had been known to fail when lifting the aircraft was attempted, with the airplane dropping to the runway, causing more damage. An example was given of an Aerostar that fell to earth that way.

    The smoke turned out to be the power supply of the Insight Strikefinder lightening detector… since the antenna got ground in half, the power supply got shorted out, and apparently is not overcurrent protected. Insight tells me my Strikefinder is so old, they no longer can source those parts, so I’ll get the newest, latest electronics (along with my new antenna) and a newer, brighter display. That’s not the way I’d envisioned accomplishing an upgrade.

    No one was hurt, the airplane has various abrasions that can be repaired, I’ll have a whole new set of antennas for the belly, plus new quick drains for the fuel header tanks. The engine will require an internal inspection, and I’ll need a new prop. Unfortunately, due to a combination of increased GA restoration work associated with COVID, and supply chain disruptions, the prop and engine work could take many months… I’m working on mitigation strategies now… perhaps a rental prop, and a local shop might do the inspection… as long as component rework isn’t required (long queue times!) hopefully I’ll be flying again in a few months.

    The FAA interview was gentle. I admitted I’d forgotten the gear. He asked what I might do to mitigate that going forward. I mentioned that I had once installed a louder gear horn, but that a FSDO inspector made me remove it (this FAA guy said, “That guy was an ***hole!”). I now planned to add a red light as well to reinforce the gear horn, and I’d enforce sterile cockpit below 4,000’ AGL. The FSDO inspector asked why I thought I hadn’t heard the gear horn. I told him it could have been distraction, or perhaps the gear horn, despite working before and after the gear-up landing, had strangely become intermittent at the time of landing. The FSDO inspector thought that was funny.

    The insurance interview was similarly gentle… and I felt bad for how badly I made my mechanic and my aircraft sheet metal guy feel for me when I contacted them. I’ve got a great team to help me put things back together… now the race is on to see if I can beat Dave Ruegg back into the air!

    Paul
     
  2. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for the report.
    And the reminder.
    You have a great attitude about it.
    Hope you are flying, soon!
     
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  3. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I applaud you for owning the mistake and even having the courage to share it here with us!

    Thanks for the write up, Paul, and sorry to hear!
     
  4. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Glad it turned out OK. Planes can be replaced, human lives not so.
     
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  5. somorris

    somorris Pattern Altitude

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    Gosh, Paul. I really hate to hear about this. I know it took a lot of courage to post this.

    Your experience is exactly why I will never own a retract. I know how easily I get distracted and forget things.

    Good luck going forward. I hope you get things repaired quickly.
     
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  6. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I added a red gear light, up front and center too. It's in the horn circuit.
     
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  7. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    Well now I feel better about driving my car for an hour at 70 mph yesterday with the parking brake on.

    We all mess up. Hope you get repaired and back in the air soon!
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
  8. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Sorry to hear of your misfortune, Paul. Good write-up.
     
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  9. Michael Cutler

    Michael Cutler Pre-Flight

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    Sorry to hear all that Paul, but thankful for two things. First of all, thankful that you and your passenger were uninjured and can fly again another day. Thankful also for your willingness to honestly assess the situation, acknowledge the mistake, then share the situation with us. Most of us have never had a GUL and hopefully never will, but it is only cautionary tales like yours that remind us to be vigilant and not allow complacency to creep in. I just discussed complacency and specifically relating to GULs today as another area instructor had one in a student's personal ac. Apparently the instructor took the controls to demonstrate something on landing and in the handoff, both instructor and student thought the other had extended the gear. I'd venture a guess that he (and you) will NEVER forget that item in pre-landing checklist again!

    I wish you the best and fastest repair time so that you can once again take to the skies in your red bird! (Side note, I like your passenger would love to have one!)
     
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  10. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    What were your remarks in the student's book? :)
     
  11. Tools

    Tools Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bravo on the write up as well. There but by the grace of God go I...
     
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  12. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

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    Ooof! Sorry to hear.
     
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  13. Rein Hart

    Rein Hart Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for sharing. A good lesson to run before landing checklist.
     
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  14. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Thanks for sharing Paul.
     
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  15. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Good writing. Thanks for the post. Hope I never do that in the amphibian, be it gear up or down (on the wrong landing surface).

    Cheers
     
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  16. Witmo

    Witmo Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for sharing. We all learned from it.
     
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  17. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing your story, Paul. Stuff happens, and it takes guts to analyze the sequence of events that led to to the incident and document it so that others can learn from your experience. I'm glad neither you nor your passenger were hurt and impressed that you already have your ducks lined up to get 177SD back in the air. Who is Dave Ruegg?
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
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  18. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Well, it's an experience. Ours was a known hydraulic failure, but it still stinks when it happens, but it's not a think to greatly fear in the Cardinal. In fact, if you had a very short space to land in, say a 600' parking lot, and were willing to trade the plane's repair for hitting a building, a gear up just might be more survivable.
     
  19. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I have recommend this or similar twice after doing complex endorsements for pilots. One in a Mooney and One in a Cruisemaster. Both due to how hard it was to hear the gear warning.

    https://flyingsafer.com/2040

    The Mooney pilot immediately installed it and really likes its.

    The Bellanca pilot never installed it, but did install a new prop and overhauled engine after doing a gear up landing, Classic left the gear down for short trip between airports and then put it up for landing.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  20. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    So sorry. Thanks for the write-up.

    With the distractions, this sounds like the video of the two french pilots gearing up a TB20.
     
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  21. tawood

    tawood En-Route

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    No one hurt, the plane can be fixed. Thanks for the reminder on the sterile cockpit, as I've let that slip lately...I need to get that rule back in my plane!
     
  22. tawood

    tawood En-Route

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    That's the first thing I thought of too!
     
  23. A1Topgun

    A1Topgun Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Curious, do you use ANR headsets?
     
  24. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Other than sterile cockpit and the red light, have you been thinking about your checklist routines and use of GUMPY like things?
     
  25. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    So, is the student going to buy a Cardinal?
     
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  26. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Yeah. GUMPS 3-4 times per landing...
     
  27. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    This is also why I teach to check more than just the lever/selector. In Cessna’s (even fixed gear) I teach look out the window to see the wheel. This can seem silly until you move from a 172 to a 172RG, or Cardinal to Cardinal RG.
    Can be more challenging in Low wings, I do like mirrors for this purpose. At a minimum take an extra second to confirm the indicator is really showing correctly for gear down, and the lever is in the correct position.

    Then check it on downwind, base, and final.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
  28. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    And for those that haven’t seen this demonstration on how you can miss things like a gear warning.
    Try this test. Bet you don’t get the correct count?



    Brian
     
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  29. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Man, Paul, I'm sure sorry to hear this. Very glad no injuries and, yes, you certainly seemed to handle everything well.
    Good luck repairing the airplane.
    Here's a photo of your plane with gear in action...
    20210603-KEIK-GDK_1597.jpg
     
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  30. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    I’ve always used 500 foot final as my “500 ft, cleared to land, gear down” check.

    Still do it today no matter what I fly.
     
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  31. Torque beast

    Torque beast Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Paul, not trying to spend your money but look at a P2 system. I installed one in my bonanza and love it. It talks to you through your headset and can be set by airspeed


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  32. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks for the good thoughts, Stan. Dave is Bonanza Dave at OAK, his hangar is at the end on the backside of your and my hangar row. He forgot the gear at KWVI a few months back, and has had trouble keeping progress on his aircraft a priority at the FBO there...

    Paul
     
  33. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Them that have and them that will.
     
  34. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    I've always wondered about the meaning of that, as I am reluctant to believe that most who fly retracts will do a belly landing.
     
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  35. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It's always about the monkey...
     
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  36. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    Mark always looked out the windows in the 182RG and had a saying he said out loud, something like “wheel on the left, wheel in the mirror” or something. Another benefit of high wing. He had another saying for the Baron, can’t recall it this morning. I never flew the retracts, not to land anyway. I could sure see me eventually landing GU if I flew them and lived long enough.
     
  37. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I got a wheel. You got a wheel. All God's children got a wheel.
     
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  38. jayhawk74

    jayhawk74 Pre-Flight

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    The way I heard it was " There are those that will and those that will again". It doesn't mean every pilot will do a belly landing but a saying to remind those that fly retracts to be diligent and not complacent.
     
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  39. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Resignation is one of the FAA-identified hazardous attitudes.
     
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  40. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Yes! Somebody said it!
     
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