A problem with a landing gear caused a twin-engine airplane on its way to Oceano to make an emergency landing at Santa Barbara Airport Monday afternoon, but the pilot suffered only a minor injury, according to airport officials.
As the pilot guided the Piper PA23-250 aircraft onto Runway 15 Right at about 12:30 p.m., the landing gear collapsed, said Santa Barbara Fire Capt. Gary Pitney.
The pilot, whose name was not released and was the only person aboard the aircraft, had been on approach to the Oceano Airport in San Luis Obispo County when he noticed that his landing gear light did not indicate that all gear was down and locked, Pitney said.
He then turned back to Santa Barbara Airport, realizing the smaller Oceano airport would not have emergency response equipment or personnel.
The pilot alerted the control tower of a possible landing gear malfunction, Pitney said, and Santa Barbara City Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting (ARFF) units responded to the runway.
After initiating two backup gear deployment procedures — involving a manual pump to move gear into landing position and activating a CO2 cartridge — the pilot made a "tower fly-by," Pitney said.
“FAA tower personnel observed that the gear was down but not aligned, as in a locked position,” he said. “ARFF equipment was moved into position and the pilot touched down on runway 15R. The nose and left landing gear held, with the right gear collapsing.”
The pilot suffered a minor cut to his hand, but declined medical attention, according to Fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado.
He said a small amount of fuel was leaking from the aircraft, and crews were spraying foam on the area as a precautionary measure.
Acting Airport Director Hazel Johns said the affected runway was closed for some time during inspection and tow of the plane for repair, but that the main runway remained.
“The good news is he landed safe,” Johns said. “His aircraft probably has some scrapes, but he was fine.”