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Landing Tip for Pilots of All Experience Levels from Master CFI Nick Schillen

It happens about 100 times every year, according to the FAA. Experienced pilots, airline pilots, military pilots have all fallen victim to it. 'It' is a gear up landing. Master Flight Instructor Nick Schillen has a safety tip that might help you avoid it.

One example of who can be involved occurred the very day Dulles International Airport opened some 40 years ago. Two executives from the FAA decided to be among the first to visit Dulles. They took the FAA's Piper Comanche from Washington National Airport and headed a few miles west. Approaching Dulles both experienced pilots were impressed by the size and at that time lack of air traffic of the new facility. They contacted the tower, lined up with the 10,000-foot runway and made a beautiful approach. Over the numbers, a flare, and crunch. Gear up landing!

This brought the emergency equipment and airport officials. Both pilots had exited the Comanche and were standing sheepishly beside it as the airport manager arrived. Recognizing his friends from the FAA office he asked: 'Gosh, how did you get here so fast?' One of the embarrassed pilots responded: 'Oh, we flew in.'

Gear-up landings rarely involve injury to pilots or passengers but they do cause damage to the aircraft as well as expense, inconvenience, and embarrassment to the pilot involved. According to the FAA, most gear-up landings are made because pilots are distracted and do not follow a landing check list.

Master Flight Instructor Nick offers a safety tip to help prevent this from happening to you. 'When I am transitioning a pilot into a complex plane,' he says, 'I always instill in their minds a little saying intended to automatically call to mind the correct action: GOING DOWN GEAR DOWN. My clients make a mantra of it.'

Nick is a Master Flight Instructor and President of NS Aviation, Inc., located at Hollywood/North Perry Airport (KHWO), Pembroke Pines, Florida. With more than 8,000 hours as a commercial and military pilot as well as a flight instructor, Nick continues to enjoy flying today as much as he did when he started flying 40 years ago.

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