Gear Glitch Spawns Impromptu Air Show

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It took 10 tries, but in the end a couple of guys zooming at 90 mph down the runway in the back of a pickup truck used a pole to hook the down, but not locked, gear of a malfunctioning Cessna Centurion 210 and lock it into place so the pilot could land safely. "Everyone kept their cool, everyone worked well together," said Griff Malleck, owner of the FBO whose mechanics were test-flying the aircraft when the problem showed itself. "All's well that ends well." The mechanics had taken off from McCook (Neb.) Regional Airport on Wednesday afternoon after working on a reported oil leak from the flaps and gear. When the gear wouldn't lock into place, the plan was hatched to let mechanic Jeff Williams, a race-car driver, take the pickup down the runway while Jeff Polly, owner of a tire store, and crop-duster Toby Cox kneeled in the back with a fiberglass pike pole taken from a fire truck. Malleck told The McCook Daily Gazette that the mechanics took off with full fuel and so spent some time aloft trying various ways to troubleshoot the gear problem before agreeing to the pickup-truck idea. They were lucky, Malleck said, that the wind was right down the runway and they had experienced crews in the plane and on the ground. Malleck said he had seen an effort like this on television, and decided to try it as a last resort.