May 8, 2017.   Worst Headline Ever.

Aviation mishaps have a way of generating some pretty awful reporting. Here, in a story that I discovered in my mobile phone news feed, CNN’s headline writers have really outdone themselves. It’s hard to unpack this one. First, I’m unsure what we’re supposed to make of the fact that passengers were inside the plane, rather than somehow outside of it. Then we have the matter of the “crash landing,” which this most categorically was not.

What actually happened seems to be that a business jet — it looks like an old, Israeli-built Westwind jet — lost a portion of its left main landing gear, then made a somewhat telegenic, if not especially dangerous, touchdown (the kind of superficial nonevent that social media, and in depressing turn, the real media, can’t get enough of). “Landing gear,” though, was apparently too jargony a term for the editors, who opted to go with “wheel” instead, thus equating the components of a jet aircraft with those of, say, a child’s toy wagon. Beyond that, I’m not certain what happened. I confess that I never clicked on the story, and neither will I be researching it now, for the simple reason that it looks really boring and unimportant. A small plane has a landing gear snafu… some sparks… oh, the humanity.

People tend to get worked up over landing gear malfunctions. In fact, if something is going to go wrong with your plane, the landing gear is one of the least hazardous places for it to happen. Provided you aren’t blowing tires at 150 knots on takeoff, gear problems are pretty easy to manage. Worst case, there’s the possibility of a fuel tank rupture or loss of directional control, but anything disastrous is highly unlikely, even in the case of a totally collapsed gear.

Back to the Ask the Pilot Home Page Visit the Blog Archive Back to Top!