Child May Have Caused Plane's Hard Landing In Fallbrook

Investigators Say Boy, 6, May Have Pulled Landing Gear Lever As Plane Touched Down

A young boy may have been responsible for causing his father's plane to land without its landing gear at a North County airpark.

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According to an FAA report, a 55 Baron T-42 Cochise plane landed on its belly at the Fallbrook Community Airpark Wednesday afternoon.

Lauren Funkhouser, of California Aero Marketing, was in her office nearby when someone ran by.

"'Someone just bellied down, gear-up down the runway,'" Funkhouser said she heard someone say. "'Please call 911. We don't know how bad, but we're taking off.'"

Firefighters said a father and his six-year-old son were in the twin-engine four-seat plane. It was later determined that the boy apparently pulled the landing gear lever just as the plane touched down, retracting the landing gear and putting the plane on its belly. It skidded to stop without injuring either passenger.

Funkhouser told 10News the plane is worth about $150,000 and may cost too much to repair.

"Oh, it's totaled; yeah, on the belly," she said.

The propellers were bent, the flaps on both wings are no longer flat and the underside of the plane was scratched.

As the plane sat on the runway, airpark personnel realized other planes might be trying to land. The airpark doesn't have an air traffic control tower.

Funkhouser said she and another man ran down the runway towards several planes trying to land "and waved just big Xs. He saw us last minute, averted, took off."

The airpark was closed for a short time as crews moved the plane off the runway.

An FAA spokesman told 10News an investigator would be sent to figure out exactly what happened with the landing.

There is no word on whether the boy has been grounded as well.

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