Pilot's tip of the week

No Gear-Up Landings

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Subscriber question:

"What is the best tip for avoiding gear-up landings?" - Frank C.

Tom:

“Ask anyone who ever flew a retractable gear airplane, and they’ve probably heard the old saying: There are those who have, and those who will, have a gear-up landing. I contend that by practicing a few simple techniques it’s possible to avoid the traps and become one of those who won’t land with the wheels retracted.

Except for the extremely rare mechanical failures that prevent normal or emergency gear extension, landing gear-up is the result of pilot distraction. We can’t avoid the numerous distractions that can happen in the airport environment. But there is one thing, if you do it every time, that will keep you from making a gear-up landing.

Double-check gear position on final approach!

No matter what you did or did not do earlier in the pattern, this is your last-ditch check to ensure the gear is down. Develop a habit of checking landing gear position as you line up on final approach. I use full flap extension as a reminder to check the landing gear. Other pilots routinely check gear position at 500 feet above ground level. Whatever you use as a trigger, practice this final-approach gear check enough that it becomes a firm habit.

If you find yourself on final within 500 feet of the ground with the landing gear still up, go around, climb to pattern altitude and fly another approach. You may not have time to fully extend the gear from less than 500 feet above ground level.

There are several other techniques that help assure you’ll be one of those who won’t have a gear-up landing. But using the final approach gear check will protect you from the distraction that so frequently results in a gear-up landing.”

Do you use a printed checklist, or mental checklist (i.e. GUMPS or other mnemonic) for landing?

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