Landing Gear Causes Consternation

August 5, 2009

in Airplane Stories

About 20 years ago, I was on a flight with my then infant daughter and my wife. I don’t remember specifically what aircraft we were on except that it was a UA flight on a plane with 2 aisles (so: a “heavy”). We took off in a snow storm from Hartford’s Bradley airport bound for O’Hare. Because we had our daughter with us, we were seated in the first row of coach, my wife at the window, and me on the aisle. Seated directly in front of us, in her aft-facing jump seat was a flight attendant.

We had been climbing out of BDL for a few minutes and the flight attendants had just gotten out of their seats and were walking in the aisles, when suddenly there was the sound of the landing gear being lowered! The FA’s immediately stopped what they were doing and literally ran back to their jump seats and strapped themselves back in. That in and of itself was a little scary, as I’d never seen FA behavior like that before. Just after this, we could hear the landing gear being raised again. After about a 30 second pause, down went the gear again! Up again, down again, the pilot raised and lowered the gear 4 or 5 more times. My wife had become concerned and insisted that we discuss our evacuation plan from the plane – which of us would carry our daughter down the slide, etc. She was perhaps a little too paranoid, but nonetheless, there was a lot of concerned murmuring from all the passengers – everyone was a little bit worried.

After the 5th or 6th time the gear went down, the flight attendant seated a few feet in front of us picked up the phone and contacted the cockpit. Of course we could hear only her half of the conversation.

“Why did you put the gear down?”









Finally my wife could contain herself no longer and shouted at the FA: “What! WHAT!”

The FA just held up her finger for quiet, then got up, and before heading forward, told us that everything was “OK.” The Captain came on the PA a few minutes later to tell us all that he had a fault light on the forward gear, and that he thought that ice had gotten in there keeping the door from closing. But apparently all was OK in the gear down position, because we flew the rest of the way to Chicago with the gear down, and landed uneventfully. So in the end, it was not the flight from hell, but being in a situation where your wife thinks you are going to die must count for at least ‘heck.’


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Nacho August 6, 2009 at 4:50 am

That'd be pretty terrifying for me, too! You guys handled it with grace, though; I think I would have lost it. (I don't like flying in the first place, so if something's going wrong, I really freak out.) Good on you, though, for getting through it!


Jodi August 6, 2009 at 5:37 am

Okay it was scary enough to be a flight from hell in my opinion. Glad everything turned out alright.


Anonymous August 6, 2009 at 7:18 am

Commendations are due the crew for explaining what happened in a clear and lucid manner. Before I got to the end, as soon as I saw "snowstorm", I suspected that's what the explanation was going to be, but I'm glad they provided one instead of simply glossing over it as "an issue".


SAW August 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm

I think that qualifies for a "nervous flight conditions" badge.


Atari August 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm

This reminds me of the, "Story from Bill" segment of that one show with Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy, wherein Bill begins to weave a yarn of suspense and intrigue and, as he reaches the climax of the story, the whole anecdote unravels in an uneventful, and safe, conclusion.

"The landing gear was on the fritz, we didn't know what was going on! Are we all going to die?! The flight attendant won't tell us anything!

But yeah, we flew to our destination and everything was fine."

I suppose that the only way to make the story more interesting would have been to describe more of the panic and fear that developed, but– that may only underscore the uneventful ending.


Tony June 15, 2010 at 3:50 am

I CALL BS. No way would your flight have flown all that way with the gear down. Your plane would have had to have flown at about 200 mph all the way there or risk damaging the landing gear. That would have taken for ever and you would have run out of fuel. (you would have had to fly at low altitude and jets are meant for high altitude where they burn less fuel). Complete BS. Never happened.


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: