Sparks fly when pilot lands without gear at Daytona Airport

By: Lauren Seabrook , WFTV Web Staff

Updated:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A Port Orange pilot’s quick actions likely saved his life when he made a safe landing at Daytona International Airport.

Michael DiPetrillo said he had to make the emergency landing Sunday when he said his landing gear wouldn’t release.

"So it was like, 'Uh oh, this is problematic.' But but don't panic. The plane's still flying. We're not falling out of the sky or anything like that," DiPetrillo told Eyewitness News.

DiPetrillo and three others were in the plane, he said.

The pilot told Channel 9’s Lauren Seabrook that he circled the airport several times trying to troubleshoot the landing gear issue, and when the wheels wouldn’t release, he decided to land the plane on its belly. Sparks flew and the plane skidded, but no injuries were reported.

"I could see sparks through my peripheral vision. I was trying to look straight ahead, but I could see sparks rolling off the wings," DiPetrillo said.

DiPetrillo said he picked to land at Daytona Beach International Airport because it has the best emergency equipment in Volusia County and one of the longest runways.

He said he stayed over water to keep away from cellphone towers and low flying training missions.

DiPetrillo said he had two hours of fuel, but he wanted to make the emergency landing while the sun was still up.

He said he stayed calm while trying to troubleshoot the problem, which kept the kids and his girlfriend from panicking.

"She said, 'If I would've turned around and told my little boy, I love you so much,' then she wouldn't freaked out a little bit more," DiPetrillo said.

No one was injured.

The FAA is investigating what caused the landing gear to malfunction.

Watch video of the landing below:


 

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