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No Injuries In ‘Gear-Up Landing’ At EAA Fly-In

A bright, sunny sky shined over the several hundred people attending the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1442’s annual fly-in at William M. Tuck Airport on Saturday.

Attendees saw airplanes, helicopters, powered-parachutes, and other aircraft take off and land throughout the day, while remote-controlled airplanes from South Boston and Danville took to the skies and wowed the crowd with amazing aerobatic feats.

A highlight of the event was the Helio Courier demonstration by missionary JAARS pilots Mike and Pat Mower showcasing the airplane’s remarkable short takeoff and landing capabilities.

At the end of the day, the remaining crowd received an opportunity to witness a “gear-up” landing that resulted in an aircraft sliding to a smooth stop in the grass median between the taxiway and runway without landing gear.

Doyle Peed of Roxboro, pilot of the twin-engine Cessna 310, displayed his skill as a veteran pilot by performing a gearless landing with both himself and a passenger walking away without a scratch.

“The pilot seemed to have difficulty deploying the landing gear,” said EAA member Mark Stevens, who witnessed the incident. “There was very little damage; the antenna didn’t even break off.”

The pilot’s quick thinking in guiding the airplane into the grass median kept the incident from interfering with airport operations, such as necessitating the closure of a runway, according to Stevens. The airport remained open for aircraft operations throughout the day.

“A potentially-hazardous situation was avoided due to the skills of the accomplished pilot,” said Stevens.

A crowning achievement of the fly-in were the flights of approximately 40 Young Eagles over the course of the event, Stevens said.

May 15 was International Learn to Fly Day, and those who took the Young Eagles flights took their first steps to reaching that goal by flying in either an airplane or helicopter, he added.

EAA member Paul Jackson’s Robins 22 helicopter could be seen flying around the skies of South Boston from 9 a.m. to after 5 p.m., carrying Young Eagles.

“Overall, the 2010 fly-in was a great success, and we are looking forward to the summer ground school and planning the next fly-in,” said Stevens.