I have always thought that it was just a matter of time before I geared in my beautiful, newely painted, SF260. I knew all of the symptoms. Something makes you mad, like getting cut off by another plane and having to go around, or a straight in approach and someone sitting on the end of the runway. So last Saturday I was returning to Winchester with another pilot. She flies a fixed gear Grumman Tiger. On three mile final I told her that this was the perfect set up for a gear up landing. I lowered the flaps and showed her the red gear warning light. We continued down as I held my hand on the gear switch but then got distracted by two planes sitting at the runway intersection. I worried about these two planes having to wait on me when Karen asked, "is that morror on the wing tip tank supposed to show the gear down?" She had to ask twice before I looked at the gear lever. I studied it for an eternity before I realized that it was up. The the horn and the red light had been relagated to the unheard and not understood part of my brain. Once the gear was down I saw the three green lights and relaxed. When I did the flair I did my routine check for three green lights and wondered if the people on the end of the runway would have warned me of having my gear up, [probably not since they were mad at having to wait so long for me to land] or if I would have looked for the green lights. But just as I had suspected, the gear causes very little drag compared to the flaps. So now I have another rule. I do not put the flaps down until the gear is down. I would much rather tear off a gear door than land gear up. I used to put down the flaps to 20º first to help lower the airspeed. Now I find some other way of getting the airspeed down to 106 knots before lowering the gear.
As I told this story around the airport one pilot told me that when he took his CFII check ride in a twin comanche he landed with the gear up. The [FEMALE}] check pilot informed him that he would have to take the check ride over and then got out, stepped down off the trailing edge of the flap onto the runway, walked over to her Volkswagon Jetta and drove off. If she had stayed around another 5 minutes he probably would have been arrested for strangling her.
If you have a gear up or near gear up suggestions, please share them with me and I will post them below.
Response #2:While I share you fear about an accidental gear up landing, I would quibble with the solution you suggest as impractical in a busy pattern when one is being asked to keep one's speed up for say, a jet in trail. Moreover however, controlling one's airspeed is even more critical when flying an IMC instrument approach. Even on an average ILS, the pitch change required to slow the plan to gear speed would pull you high out of the glideslope, forcing you to chase it all the way back down. Very dangerous.
I think a more reasonable solution is to work from check lists and master procedures. The other thing that I always insist upon as PIC is no conversation from anyone while approaching the airport unless it relates to the safety of the flight.
In the meantime, Airmachi offers a speed-mod for the gear that raises the gear speed to 125kts so that gear may be deployed before or with the first twenty degrees of flaps. I already have the kit and am having it installed on my plane soon. I am a firm believer in GUMPS. One should never be distracted from that final check. Mine goes like this, and I say it out loud every time:
Gas is on the: "left" (fullest tank, check selector) -- Boost pump "On."
Undercaraige: "Down" "Cross check manual indicator forward"
The Factory hi-speed gear extension/retraction kit includes new rod end and nose gear actuation rod. Increases gear speed to 125kts Same as 20 deg flaps. Not certified but can be used on those 260's that are certified in Experimental. Price is $1250 USD. You can order them from me.Dudley- This is why the Marchetti has BOTH the horn and the lights. Don't touch that deactivate landing gear horn unless you are doing slow flight or stalls etc.
If you want to get the gear AND the flaps down simultaneously- I suggest you ante up for the hi-speed gear extension kit which will raise the gear speed to 125kts.