17yo student pilot on one of her first solo flights loses her landing wheel on takeoff

Saw this on Reddit, thought I would share it here since, IIRC, we have a few pilots on this board.

I’ll save you all the drama, there is no disaster here. It is a happy ending and, as these things go, not particularly crazy.

I think the charm here is the young lady doing a good job of keeping her shit together despite a scary situation. You can hear fear in her voice but she hangs in there the whole way.

If she ever decides to become a commercial pilot she would be someone I would like flying a plane I am on. Keeping your wits about you despite scary things happening goes a long way to successfully resolving bad situations.

Here is a YouTube link to the radar and radio chatter of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B229-KLudTo

It was very interesting to listen to that. It is amazing that it worked out like it did.

FYI, there was an earlier, short thread on this: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=862092

Well done to all involved.

I too saw this on Reddit yesterday. I was totally sucked in. The timid voice; just made me want to do whatever I could to help. I really liked the interview with her too. She seemed like a very confident kid. She said she want’s to be a commercial pilot someday. I’m thinking she just need to play that youtube video at any future interviews and she’ll have a good shot! :slight_smile:

I’m glad she walked away but there were 2 things I would have changed. First, why did they have her land on the center line? Without a wheel it’s going to drag the plane hard to the right. They should have instructed her to land on the left side of the runway. You can see a runway light cut through the right wing which means she ran off the runway to the right and spun it on the light. Actually not a bad ending because it acted as something of an arrestor cable but you don’t want to open up a fuel tank in the wing.

The other thing I would have instructed her to do is crack open the door prior to touchdown. Just enough so it doesn’t jam if the frame flexes. This door has 2 latches so there is twice the chance of jamming it shut. I’ve seen tricycle gear planes go off the runway and ground-loop and then wadding up into a ball of aluminum. If the door jams then it’s tough to extract someone. The windows are plastic and don’t break out like a car window. Not something you want to deal with in a fire situation.

Kudos to the pilot. Even though you could hear the fear in her voice she followed the number 1 rule: keep flying the plane.

actually I just thought of a third thing they could have done. have her land close to the intersection of the other runway. She might have been dragged sideways to the other runway or intersecting taxiways and kept it on a hard surface the whole time.

At a guess, it’s easy to see and minimises her effort.

And it’s undoubtedly what she’s been trained to do. This is not the time to overly complicate things.

This, 1000% this.

In times of stress the last thing you want to do is to introduce new routines that aren’t absolutely necessary to a good outcome. The moment you start doing things differently it can fall apart drastically (especially with someone who’s only just built up their mental model of an optimal situation).
I’m sure that the people talking her down assessed the risks and decided that the benefits of a perfect outcome by taking the additional precautions were outweighed by risks of trying to get a new pilot to do something new.

Lovely to have a good news story though. I believe she was back up the next day. Good for her and all involved.

Indeed, he even said it straight out.

well yes that’s true but landing left of the center line is like changing lanes in a car. I f you listen you’ll hear that she went to full flaps without being told. this was not a standard setting but she instinctively made it a short field landing. This was a 4 passenger 160 hp plane. It’s probably not the trainer she started in. She knew what she was doing. I think she was more than capable of making a slight adjustment to go left of center. It’s not even a minor change in the approach.

Looking at the plane you can see damage on the right side of the engine bay the same height and shape as the runway light that cut into the wing. Either she struck 2 runway lights or spun on one which then slid down the leading edge and then cut into the wing. She was literally inches away from hitting the light with the nose gear. That would have bent or torn off the nose gear causing the prop to dig into the ground. the light probably passed through the arc of the propeller which was another lucky break.

This particular plane has a single cabin door. It has 2 latches. The top of the door curves into the top of the plane so it will have the weight of the plane on it if it flips over. It makes it very tough to open.

I’m posting this because other pilots should think in terms of minimizing a problem to one’s best advantage. If you can avoid running off a hard surface with a damaged gear then that option should be pursued.

The one thing I yelled at the screen in Dunkirk was when one of the Spitfire pilots was getting ready to ditch. He slid the canopy back (good, good) then slid it home again. What are you doing you bloody idiot! Then later when he’s sticking his pathetic little hand out the four inch gap, Bet 'cha wish you’d kept it open now, don’t 'cha!