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Single-Engine Plane Lands Safely Without Landing Gear

Aired August 27, 2001 - 15:37   ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you live to Fort Worth, Texas where the pilots who landed a Cessna, single-engine Cessna 172 this afternoon in Fort Worth are talking about how they did that without the landing gear down.

CURT MCKOWN, PILOT INSTRUCTOR: We got -- we had the maintenance on the telephone, emergency checklist, which we had in the plane. I don't want to get too involved in everything that we did on the plane.

QUESTION: You had whole a whole (OFF-MIKE)?

MCKOWN: That's a negative.

QUESTION: What did you do?

DOUG REOH, LICENSED PILOT: We -- we basically tried to stay with the -- with the checklist.

MCKOWN: Yeah. Did everything that the maintenance -- everything that the maintenance asked us to do. Tried to access places that may possibly let us put the gear down.

QUESTION: Have (OFF-MIKE) in this situation before?

MCKOWN: No, sir.

QUESTION: What was going through your mind when you were approaching that final time, right before you landed? What was going through your mind?

MCKOWN: I was just trying to set it down as soft and as slow as we could.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) two years now?

MCKOWN: About 2 1/2 years.

QUESTION: I mean, how do you describe the emotions going on in that cockpit?

MCKOWN: We -- we train for this kind of stuff. I mean, the worst thing that we could do is lose our cool. So I don't know. Actually, it didn't really sink in until -- until we decided it was about time to land. QUESTION: At what point did you realize that you had gone through your checklist, done everything you could, and you were going to have to burn off fuel and land?

MCKOWN: Probably two hours into the flight.

REOH: Yeah.

QUESTION: So, roughly, how much time was spent with that knowledge before you actually landed?

REOH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about another hour and a half.

MCKOWN: Yeah, hour and a half or two hours.



MCKOWN: We stayed up in the air primarily to burn off fuel.

REOH: I was learning -- learning...

QUESTION: Tell me, what did you learn up there?

MCKOWN: Kept his cool real good. So, you know, you just never -- never really want to panic. And that's basically what we did. We just talked over with each other what exactly we were going to do, how we wanted it done. And we went by our checklist, how we were trained, and that's what we did.

QUESTION: Did you have a lot of confidence in him?

REOH: Oh, yeah. I wasn't worried.

QUESTION: Why not?

REOH: Just wasn't.

QUESTION: What was so -- he's got a lot more experience in this stuff than you. What were you thinking as you were realizing you weren't going to be able to get the gear down?

REOH: I don't really know. I don't really remember.

QUESTION: Was it all routine?

REOH: Yeah, pretty much.

QUESTION: Actually, both of you have -- are pilots, licensed pilots. You were getting your license to be a flight instructor. Is that correct?

REOH: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: So you have 2 1/2 years and you've got two years. REOH: Yeah, I took a time period off from flying for a while.

QUESTION: OK. But you do have a pilot's license?

REOH: Yes, I have a commercial license.


QUESTION: What do you take a way from an experience like this then? I mean, how does this factor in to your instruction? I mean, what -- how does this...

REOH: At least I guess now you know what you're going to do if it ever happens again. If somebody asks you, well, what happens if this happens, now we know.

MCKOWN: And you've got a frame of reference next time it happens.

REOH: You can't say, well, somebody else had this happen and this is what they did. Now, I know. Well, this happened to me, so...

QUESTION: You guys kind of train for this in your training, although you never practice it until it counts. What did you think when you made the safe landing? And now, looking back, you know, you must be pretty proud.

MCKOWN: I don't know about him. It was a lot more textbook that I intended it to be. I thought it was going to be a lot rougher experience.

QUESTION: Have you seen video images of your landing yet?

MCKOWN: No, sir.

QUESTION: You're looking forward to that?

MCKOWN: I hope so.

QUESTION: Curt, talk us -- you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to final. You make the turn. Talk us all the way down from that point to when you all jumped out and hoofed it across the runway.

MCKOWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to final. I went full flaps, power off, got the plane configured exactly the way that I wanted. Had a good, stabilized approach on final. So I had minimal things to do when I was committed to landing. And about the time that I started to flare, we shut the engine down and turned the fuel off. And once you do that, you're pretty much committed.

So I made sure that we could do everything that we could ahead of time. So...

QUESTION: How fast...


QUESTION: How fast were you going?

MCKOWN: Final approach was 60 knots.

QUESTION: You guys sound so calm and cool and collected, but there had to had at least been a little bit of fear to creep into this.

REOH: Yeah, I was scared. I mean, you thought about what could have happened, and what, you know -- but you didn't really want to think about it too much.

MCKOWN: It's just one of those unknown experiences. You see people crash all the time, you see people walk away from gear-ups all the time. So we were just lucky enough to be in the other group.

REOH: Yeah.

QUESTION: What was it like? I mean, loud, bumpy, the scraping -- can you describe all of that? Because you'd never heard it before either.

MCKOWN: It wasn't very noisy. It just sounded...

REOH: I don't think it was really that loud. Actually, once you hit down...

MCKOWN: Hit down it was kind of a buzzing noise...

REOH: Yeah.

MCKOWN: ... and continuously got less.

QUESTION: You said you guys discovered the problem -- what? -- 15, 20 minutes after takeoff?

MCKOWN: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: And I don't know if you've covered this yet. But what was it that tipped you off that there was a problem so soon and why wasn't it something that was noticed perhaps when you guys were on the ground before taking off?

MCKOWN: Well, actually, this was the second time that we had cycled the gear while we were in the air.

QUESTION: So the first time it came out fine?

MCKOWN: I believe so.

REOH: Yes.

QUESTION: You may not know...

MCKOWN: In hindsight I believe so, but I don't actually remember.

QUESTION: It's a really good thing that everyone is calling this a textbook landing, because you may not know this, but CNN picked this picture up live. People in Africa, people in China watched you land that plane. What do you think about that?

MCKOWN: That's -- I'm happy that we made a safe landing.

REOH: Yeah.

MCKOWN: I figure there was a lot of people waiting for some -- a little bit more excitement, but I'm just happy that we both walked away from it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take one more question.

QUESTION: What's the next time you'll get in a plane? I mean, what are you -- will you be at work tomorrow or...

MCKOWN: I'm going back up today.

QUESTION: Today? To do what?

MCKOWN: I'm going to take a flight to Waco.

QUESTION: Be flying yourself?

MCKOWN: No. It'll be another -- another instructional flight.

QUESTION: Does this change your opinion of -- I mean, a lot of people wonder about general aviation. What does this tell you? What does it tell people who aren't experienced?

REOH: Do what you're supposed to do and this is what happens. do what you're trained to do and look what happens.

MCKOWN: Yeah, I think that training is the key thing that kept us cool. That's it.

QUESTION: At what point did you know you were out of the woods as you (OFF-MIKE)?

MCKOWN: Umm, when the plane -- I expected the plane to tip whenever we landed, and it never did tip over and it stopped. So I knew that we were pretty safe, that there wasn't going to be fuel flying all over the place. That was my -- one of my primary concerns was a fire.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: You guys were super.


ALLEN: Well, we have names now to the folks that we knew were bringing down a Cessna single-engine 172 a few hours ago. We brought it to you live here on CNN there in Fort Worth, Texas.

Curt McKown was flying the plane. His student was Doug Reoh. They both said there at the news conference that they were very cool in that cockpit as they brought it down, and they were very cool and calm and collected there at the news conference.

He said: "We thought it was going to be tougher than it was, but it was textbook." And it certainly was as we will show you one more picture of their landing without any landing gear earlier this afternoon in Forth Worth, Texas. Not a scratch and they're fine.

And we'll take a break.



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