CHESTERFIELD, MO (KPLR) – There were some tense moments Wednesday morning at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield. A single engine Cessna Centurion plane did a belly landing after something happened with its landing gear.
It all happened about 7:40am Wednesday. Authorities say the pilot never declared any kind of emergency or told the workers in the tower that anything was wrong.
The Director of Spirit Airport John Bales says the pilot probably didn’t realize there was an issue with the landing gear until he touched down.
“What we know at this point is that the pilot landed and the gear collapsed. Either the gear collapsed or it wasn’t fully extended. We don’t know to that point, but there was no indications of the pilot that there was any problem with the gear,” explained Bales.
Bales applauds the pilot with pulling off the belly landing smoothly. The man was able to keep the plane upright in a quickly developing situation without any major problems.
“A lot of times they’ll know that they have a gear issue so they’re prepared for it. He was prepared for a normal landing, so it was probably a shock to him. But he did a great job, kept the airplane on the runway,” explained Bales.
There were initial reports of smoke in the cockpit, but Bales says that was just friction from the plane rubbing along the ground.
Fire crews did respond as a precaution.
The pilot was the only one on board and was not hurt. It was a scary situation that turned out ok.
“The worst case scenario is the airplane could cartwheel or flip. But like I said he had it perfectly level. It stayed right on its belly,” Bales told us.
Bales says the pilot is from the St. Louis area and has a hangar at Spirit Airport. Apparently, he was just out flying for the morning. He was not injured.
The FAA is investigating the incident.
The pilot’s name has not been released.