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Sliding doors moment which saved plane

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Sliding doors moment which saved plane

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The hero pilot who made an emergency landing at a regional airport has revealed how he realised something was wrong with his light plane just minutes into the doomed flight.

Queensland pilot Peter Schott, 53, performed a ‘wheels-up landing’ at Newcastle Airport in the NSW Hunter Region on Monday after his landing gear failed.

Australia held its breath as his plane was seen on tracking sites circling the airport for almost four hours, with the pilot forced to burn off fuel to make a safe emergency landing.

But he soon pulled off what police described as a “textbook wheels-up landing”, with no one hurt in what could have been a devastating situation.

Mr Schott had set off for Port Macquarie, about 250km away, with two passengers in the Beechcraft Super King Air after 8.30am on Monday before he realised there was a fault with the landing gear.

Speaking to the Today show on Tuesday morning, Mr Schott said he picked up “straight away” that something had happened, before making an important decision to stop the flight and carry out checks on the 13-seater plane.

“When I retracted the gear, it sort of made a whole heap of really bad mechanical sounds and the red transit light remained illuminated,” he said.

“I said to (the) air traffic controller, ‘I don’t want to continue the flight. I want to stay in the circuit area at Williamtown and carry out some checks’.”

He added it was a “good thing I did because the cloud was about 1500 feet”.

“By making an early decision, I could stay below the cloud and carry out my checks,” he explained.

“Once we were done carrying out the checks and it wasn’t doing anything, pretty much straight away I declared a (plan), and I had a plan of what I wanted to do.”

Miracle landing after plane's gear malfunction

Before doing anything “drastic”, Mr Schott said he spoke to every King Air expert he could find and set a target for the amount of fuel he wanted on board when he eventually landed the plane.

This is because if a plane performs a wheels-up landing with lots of fuel onboard, sparks which fly when the metalbase of the plane hits the tarmac could spark a fire.

“(It was) just calm, go through everything in a methodical, clear process and wait for the fuel to burn down and thankfully it ended up being a good outcome,” the pilot explained.

He said he kept his two passengers, Michael Reynolds, who was celebrating his 60th birthday, and his 65-year-old wife informed throughout the process and asked them to move seats near the exit.

“I gave them a quick brief at the start. I told them what we’d be doing, later on, probably an hour into the flight, I said ‘right in the next hour, we’ll be touching down. This is what I want you to do’.”

“They handled things really well. Unfortunately, the gentleman was getting motion sickness, and we were under a layer of cloud so there’s quite a few bumps, and, unfortunately, after a while he was getting a bit sick and throwing up.”

While in the air, Mr Schott encountered a number of unexpected obstacles, including large rain showers.

“There was a lot of other things that are just thrown at you that you didn’t expect. There were a lot of bird hazards and the weather started coming in even though there was no forecast for the weather to come in,” he aded.

“At one stage before the rain came, I spoke to the ground services. I said, ‘where do you think the safest place to put the plane is?’ And they told me one of the circuits.”

About an hour later, he said he landed the plane about ten metres short of where he told them he would land.

Speaking after the plane landed safely on Monday, NSW Police Superintendent Wayne Humphrey praised Mr Schott for being cool, calm and handling the situation perfectly.

“He made a textbook wheels-up landing, which I was very happy to see … it was a great result. Really well done by the pilot,” Superintendent Humphrey said, adding the pilot sounded calm on the radio.

Neither Mr Schott nor the two passengers were injured.

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said multiple crews had been sent to the airport.

Initial indications were there was only superficial damage to the runway, but the air force would check further.

The commercial airport shares the land with RAAF Base Williamtown. The RAAF control the land.

Eastern Air Services registered flight XDV had been scheduled to make a 26-minute flight from Newcastle to Port Macquarie.

Dozens of onlookers had gathered at the airport and cheered, the Daily Mail reports, as the plane made a successful “wheels-up landing” at 12.19pm.

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