DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A twin engine Piper PA 23 was approaching an airport in Daytona Beach, Florida without landing gear. When it finally touched the ground, bystanders could see smoke coming up as the metal belly of the plane scraped along the runway.
Embry Riddle Aeronautical Institute’s Chief Flight Instructor decided to use the situation as a teaching moment.
“It could have been catastrophic. You never know what could have happened. They could have flipped, they could have done some damage, they could have exited the runway, could have hurt someone else,” said Ivan Grau.
Word of the troubled flight came in spread fast.
“They told me the emergency was a multi-engine aircraft was having problems with the landing gear. It wasn’t coming down."
Along with 35 of his students, he stood along with runway, watching the real life drama unfold.
“The airplane did a fly-by, and everyone saw that there was no landing gear down. It came by, did another big circle, went by Ormond and was setting up for a landing with no gear,” said Grau.
He says when one of the planes wheels doesn’t come down, it’s safer to land with no wheels at all. But, you have to be careful. He says the pilot flew circles for about an hour to burn off fuel, reducing the chances of the aircraft catching fire after landing on it’s belly.
“As we were all out here looking I explained to them what was happening, why the pilot shut off the engines,” said Grau.
He says the plane then operates as a glider.
“You have to be sure as a pilot when you shut down the engines that. You will make the runway,” said Grau.
He says that’s typically the smartest move.
“Because what would happen if props hit ground. It would destroy the engines,” said Grau.
It a propeller breaks off and becomes a projectile, that could damage the plane or anyone in proximity out there trying to help.
The pilot and co-pilot walked away from this emergency landing. Grau says it was a job well-done and an invaluable lesson for his student pilots.
“They learned that if you do the right thing, you stay calm stay collected do what you’ve been trained for, it’s going to be okay,” said Grau.