Almost a gear up

So I am in the pattern on downwind on a busy day. Traffic called out for me to find on base and final. I put the gear lever down and check for 3 green. All looks well. Get slowed down and start adding flaps while looking for traffic. Turn base, glance down to see 3 green. Base to final, now have full flaps and power back, habit has me glance to see 3 green again. Plane waiting to take off says over frequency “you better get your gear down” I perk up, the gear lever is down, I have the full flaps and low power with no warning lights, I think, is he talking to me. I glance at the gear lights and it looks like 3 green, then I shield the bright sunlight with my hand and realize they are not lit. Tell the tower “I’m going around”. They say OK and contact emergency services. I yank the book out and start troubleshooting to find a tripped circuit breaker. Reset the breaker and all is well, well except for the fire trucks waiting for me. Why on earth would Piper put the gear motor and warning lights on the same circuit breaker? I don’t know if all the Pipers are like this, mine is a 1994 PA-32R-301. If there hadn’t been a plane on the ground that caught this for me I probably would have had a gear up landing.

Comments

  • I don’t have an answer to your question, but I am glad for the safe outcome!

    I replaced the gear indicator lights in my Arrow with LEDs. They are unmistakable even in direct sunlight. The catch is they don’t dim at night. The flip side of that point is you will never get caught by the trap of them being fully dimmed after a night flight and wondering why you can’t get the gear down.

    Jim M.
    PA-28R-200
    Based at BUU
    ATC Chicago TRACON

  • edited May 28
    Whew! That was REALLY close. Glad you were spared. Track down that pilot and buy him dinner!

    I always worry about forgetting the gear as I get older. Fortunately, mine are down and welded 😬. But I call three green anyway.

    I remember picking up the keys to an arrow for my commercial flight test years ago. My instructor had a very large tag attached with three words of encouragement:
    GEAR, GEAR, GEAR!!!
  • Thanks for sharing this. We'll all be a bit more attentive because of your story. Again, thanks.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • “Great pilots turn bad situations into good outcomes...”. Learned that binge watching Smithsonian Channel. :-)

  • I also replaced the incandescent bulbs in the gear indicators of my Arrow with LEDs some years back after I took off very late at night from KABQ on my way home and wondered why the rate of climb was anemic. I was just passing the eastern edge of the city (heading up the pass toward the mountains) and, of course, the ground lights were quite bright so I never noticed that the gear lights were still showing green although very dim!! Dealing with the tower, airline traffic, and departure caused a lapse in my check list. But, as Jim M said, the LEDs don't draw enough current to be affected by the resistor that is shunted in series with them when the nav lights are turned on so they are FULL BRIGHT all the time.

    Jim Torley
    CFI-A/I/G
    1969 Arrow 200
    Based at KFLY (Colorado Springs, CO)

  • highflight - Only the engineers at Piper can answer your question regarding the gear motor and indicator lights on the same breaker. I'm sure there was a reason. Glad to hear you made it down safely without harm to you or your airplane.

    Jim "Griff" Griffin
    PA28 - 161
    Chicago area

  • The nose gear indicator light on my 1969 P28R-200 is usually dim and I frequently need to wiggle it to get a light showing. I want to replace with LEDs. Does the green plastic come off the bulb? How?

  • LED gear indicator lamps are probably the best ROI of anything you can do for your plane. Just pull the square green housing away from the panel, and the bulb slides out from behind. I'm using these ones: https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/elpages/marketled.php

    As an added bonus, the LED barrels are a few thousandths larger than the standard GE bulb, so your intermittent problem (needing to wiggle them) will probably go away.

  • The green gear light pulls straight out and the light bulb then pulls straight out of the green gear light. Kind of convoluted but it's easy to remove.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Do note my comment above about the fact that the LEDs will NOT dim with the panel light switch so at night they are plenty bright!!

    Jim Torley
    CFI-A/I/G
    1969 Arrow 200
    Based at KFLY (Colorado Springs, CO)

  • Thanks for posting your experience. As a fairly new pilot who recently moved up from an Archer to a t-tail Lance this is one of my biggest fears...a gear up landing.

    After reading this I immediately ordered the LED bulbs from Aircraft Spruce. I never understood why the landing gear lights are connected to that panel dimmer switch. Seems like a major oversight on someone’s part.

    Again, thanks for posting. Glad this was a happy ending. Great lesson for anyone with aretract plane.

  • I've been flying retracts for 40 years and have never had a problem leaving the gear down. First, this device might be worth looking into. I did a product review on this about two years ago. https://sarasotaavionics.com/avionics/audio-advisory-system
    Also, your Lance should have a gear warning horn built it to the throttle. However, the microswitches that drive these horns fail alot. Have your mechanic check it out ASAP.
    Also, in the days before noise cancelling headsets you could hear the sound difference between gear up and gear down. In today's world you can't hear it. But YOU CAN SEE IT! In my Seneca's and in my current Arrow your airspeed will be much higher while on approach. More specifically, in either my Seneca or Arrow it would not be easy to get to flap extension speed with the gear up. Make a note of it on your airspeed indicator and get used to checking while on final.
    Most of us with retracts know what our planes feel like, sound like and handle like with gear up and down. You will develop that, too, over time.
    BTW, the mostly likely scenario for a gear up landing is after doing a missed approach or go around. Be especially vigilant during one of these!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • edited July 28

    My Arrow "whistles" when the gear is down and I have heard (from the ground) other Arrows with the same sound. Not always, but frequently, I will reduce the manifold pressure below 15 inches (gear still up) just to make sure the horn blows. Because the "auto extension" feature has been removed from my Arrow, the gear horn will blow when the flaps are down (2nd "notch") and the gear is up regardless of throttle setting. Most frequently noticed during max performance takeoff simulating short field t.o.

    Jim Torley
    CFI-A/I/G
    1969 Arrow 200
    Based at KFLY (Colorado Springs, CO)

  • Thanks Jim!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • edited July 28

    I will have to take my headset off and listen for the "whistle" with the gear down. But so far, honestly, you cannot miss the horn going off if you reduce power with the gear still up. Loud and clear even with a headset on. So far that has only been practicing slow flight. I have remembered, with checklist, gear down each landing.

    Andy Sikora
    PA28R-200
    X51
    Retired Miami Tracon

  • I also notice that I can "feel" the nose gear lock into place through the rudder pedals.

    Jim Torley
    CFI-A/I/G
    1969 Arrow 200
    Based at KFLY (Colorado Springs, CO)

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