ST. GEORGE — The pilot of a Cherokee Turbo Arrow 28 had to make an emergency landing Monday morning at St. George Regional Airport after the plane’s landing gear malfunctioned.
Brad Kitchen, airside operations supervisor at the airport, told St. George News that the pilot called in to say that he couldn’t get his landing gear all the way down. Kitchen put out an Alert 2 call on an inbound flight, which prompted St. George Fire Department, as well as Gold Cross Ambulance, to respond to the scene.
“In the meantime, we asked the pilot to stay in the air,” Kitchen said. “He did about six fly-bys while we tried to find a solution to the problem.”
To that end, Kitchen called in a mechanic who works nearby. The mechanic asked the pilot to perform a series of maneuvers meant to jerk the landing gear out, but it didn’t work.
Meanwhile, Kitchen said, he had two commercial aircraft that were also trying to land.
“We had to close the runway for 15 to 20 minutes,” he said. “We work really hard to minimize waits. This one just couldn’t be avoided.”
Kitchen said the pilot was told to land. While the main landing gear beneath the wings was down, the nose wheel was at a 45-degree angle, which isn’t good for landing. Still, the pilot guided the plane onto the runway.
“He did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Kitchen said. “He was very calm in a scary situation, but he managed to slow down, tilt the nose up and land gingerly.”
The plane’s main landing gear buckled upon landing, causing the plane to slide on its belly.
“Though there are skids built into the aircraft’s fuselage so you can slide in, it gets hot fast,” Kitchen said. “That’s not good, because there’s a lot of fuel in the wings. That creates a fire hazard.”
To squelch any potential fires, the Airport Rescue and Firefighting team sprayed the plane with a fast-acting foam to cool the plane’s undercarriage. After receiving permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, crews cleaned up the runway.
Kitchen said that the plane would need a new engine, as well as other repairs.
“Ultimately, nobody was hurt,” Kitchen said. “And there were no commercial delays. So we did all right.”
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