On June 9, 1999, at 1158 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250 airplane, N5309P, was substantially damaged during landing on runway 16 at Plentywood, Montana. The private pilot-in-command and one passenger were not injured in the accident. The pilot reported that visual meteorological conditions existed, and that no flight plan had been filed for the 14 CFR 91 local personal flight from Plentywood.

The pilot reported that the green landing gear "down" indicator light did not illuminate until his third attempt to lower the landing gear (NOTE: the PA-24 is equipped with a single green indicator light to indicate that all three gear are down and locked.) He stated he got a green landing gear "down" indication on the third attempt. The pilot stated that after checking the airport wind sock (which he stated was indicating "south-southwest half limp") he elected to land on turf runway 16 (1,995 by 80 feet, according to the Montana Department of Aeronautics state airport directory) rather than paved runway 12 (3,900 by 75 feet). The pilot reported he landed with "the third notch of flaps" set (full [27 degrees] flaps, which is the recommended flap setting for landing by the aircraft owner's manual [AOM]) and with an approach speed of 85 MPH (the recommended normal approach speed, according to the AOM.) He stated that "[a] couple hundred feet" after crossing the runway 16 threshold (Runway 12 crosses runway 16 at approximately the runway 16 approach end), "I thought I heard the mains touch so I eased the nose forward to pin it down and then the airplane was stopping awful fast and then the propeller stopped horizontally and it was bent back." The pilot reported winds at the time as being from 210 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 13 knots. The pilot reported on his NTSB accident report that no mechanical malfunction or failure was involved in the accident. On his NTSB accident report, the pilot indicated "double checked gear handle & gear light" as a means by which the accident could have been prevented.

An individual who helped recover the aircraft after the accident provided a statement to an inspector at the FAA's Helena, Montana, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), in which he stated he responded to the Plentywood airport after receiving a phone call "about the gear up landing", in order to "help extend the gear" of the accident aircraft after the accident. This individual reported that while preparing to respond to the airport to assist with the situation, he instructed the pilot to ensure the landing gear switch was in the "off" or "up" position prior to turning on the master switch (in order to avoid damage to the landing gear drive mechanism), but that the pilot replied he had already turned on the master switch with the landing gear switch in the "down" position and could hear the landing gear motor running. The individual reported that before lifting the aircraft, he looked under the aircraft and observed that the main gear was out of the gear well and the gear doors were open about 1 inch. He stated that after lifting the aircraft, an attempt was made to extend the gear by normal extension means, and that the electric gear motor ran but the gear did not extend since the casting holding the landing gear motor in place was broken. He reported that when he removed mud and dirt that was packed into the nose wheel well, all three landing gear fell into the down and locked position.

The PA-24 AOM landing check list contains a step directing pilots to check landing gear down as follows: under 150 MPH, check green light on, warning horn off, and gear emergency handle in forward position.

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