LOT's Gear-UP: Thank God!
Let's all stand up on our respective virtual sofas and offer a loud cheer for Tadeusz Wrona. But not for the reason you think. Wrona was the skipper of that LOT 767ER that landed Tuesday in a shower of sparks in Warsaw with the wheels tucked into the wells. Evidently, after a hydraulic failure, he and his FO, Jerzy Szwartz, couldn't get the wheels down so they did what they had to do: Skidded down the runway resulting a seven-figure repair bill for some insurance company.
But I'm not cheering for Wrona's airmanship, which I more or less expect. He is, after all, a professional. I'm cheering because a couple of camera crews got great, unobstructed footage of the whole thing and it raced around the world at all of the speed the modern internet can muster and proved, once and for all, that a gear-up is just not a very big deal except for the people who have to move the airplane and fix it.
For the passengers, well, they always seem to end up the same way—milling around on the runway wondering when they're going to get their bags. I'm thinking here of the pax aboard who were sobbing, writing last words to loved ones and otherwise being overwrought without anyone being able to convince them that the risk during a wheels up landings is trivial. Maybe this video will help next time. Or maybe the working press will just stop reporting it that way.
I know, I know…as pilots, we're supposed to be empathetic with fearful fliers who don't understand that the belly structure in a typical jet transport is like the Brooklyn Bridge. Rational explanations won't suffice. Maybe I'm trivializing it, but I can't help myself. Perhaps we should resort to the method used in that hilarious scene in Airplane where the entire cabin lined up to try to slap some sense into a terrified passenger. Well, I guess not. But it was still funny.
Speaking of funny, the dark Poles wasted no time in circulating this little joke: "Fly like an eagle, land like a crow." In Polish, the Captain's last name, Wrona, means crow.