Hard landing for plane at Roche Harbor

An unidentified pilot of a 1980 Beech Bonanza talks with FAA officials late Friday afternoon after a
An unidentified pilot of a 1980 Beech Bonanza talks with FAA officials late Friday afternoon after a 'wheels-up' landing at Roche Harbor.
— image credit: James Krall

Two men walked away Friday afternoon after a unintentional "wheels-up" landing at Roche Harbor.

The pilot and passenger, who declined to give their names, were flying a 1980 Beech Bonanza A36TC on an apparent routine flight from Cavanaugh Bay, Idaho, when according to the pilot, there was an apparent fuse malfunction in the circuitry controlling the aircraft's landing gear.

The plane is registered to Sunnybrae 192 LLC out of Astoria, Ore.

The pilot didn't disclose whether or not he knew of the malfunction.

David Gibbs, property manager at Roche Harbor Resort, said that given the time of day and the angle of the sun shining on the instrument panel on the pilot's final approach, it's not uncommon for indicator lights to appear as though they're illuminated.

Consequently, it's not known if the pilot had "three greens," meaning three green lights on the display indicating that the aircraft's wheels are down and locked.

The plane skidded approximately 1200 feet and came to rest in the center of the runway. Onlookers agreed the pilot did a masterful job keeping the aircraft in control.

According to statements made by the pilot, who was immediately in contact with Federal Aviation Administration officials, since the aircraft's wings didn't touch the ground and there was no damage to the aircraft's spar, the incident wouldn't be subject to further investigation and the case is essentially closed.

As the plane was being lifted by its nose, the pilot got back inside the aircraft and lowered the plane's landing gear using electrical power. It took several attempts to get them down, as the circuit cut in and out several times.

The cost of the damage to the aircraft is unknown. It was towed to a nearby hangar at Westcott Aviation.

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