Gear-Up: Those Who Have, Those Who Haven't Yet

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The great thing about gear-up landings is they almost never result in any fatalities, unless you count dying of embarrassment. Somehow you expect guys like retired Capt. Dale Snodgrass (Top Gun grad, Navy Fighter Pilot of the Year) to be outside the grasp of "those who have and those who will," but "Snort" was at the helm of a vintage F-86 that went aluminum on concrete at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in March and it's been determined the only failure was Snodgrass's. "It's hard to believe that a guy with all that experience would not put down his landing gear," retired Maj. Jack Boileau, a former F-86 driver, told KVOA News. Snodgrass declined an interview. Boileau said Snodgrass would have had to be oblivious to warning lights and a cockpit alarm to belly land the F-86 "fighter jet." Snodgrass was training with other warbird pilots for the ensuing air show season when the mishap occurred. An Air Force spokesman told the TV station that it still has confidence in the 10,000-hour pilot (half of them in F-14s) and he remains on the air show schedule. Despite the fire that erupted in one of the jet's wing tanks, damage to the F-86, owned by a California air museum, is said to have been minor.