By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
When the pilot of a P-51D was unable to extend the landing gear to land on Sunday afternoon, his ground crew found some expert help -- they got former airshow pilot Bob Hoover, now 90 years old, on the phone to offer advice. Pilot Chuck Gardner was preparing to land in Mobile, Ala., after giving a 30-minute ride to a customer, but when he put the gear down, only the right main gear extended. Gardner knew he could probably manage to land and walk away, but not without damaging the $3 million airplane. Hoover suggested to "Yaw it really good," according to EAA, to force air under the gear door, then execute a series of positive- and negative-g maneuvers to unjam the gear, and it worked.
The airplane, owned by Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, was making a stop in Mobile on its way to Florida for the Sun 'n Fun airshow, coming up at the end of March. The passenger, Bill Barton, of Mobile, had paid about $2,000 for the ride, and he was a good sport about the incident. "It was actually a lot of fun
I got my money's worth," he told the local WALA TV news. Troubleshooting the gear problem added an extra hour to his flight.