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Pilot cheered for safe landing after gear failure

Newcastle Airport emergency landing

A pilot who successfully landed a plane on its belly and with broken landing gear has been applauded for his calm approach after battling bad weather, mechanical failures and a stream of pelicans.

Peter Schott was forced to make an emergency landing at a Williamtown RAAF base north of Newcastle after circling the adjacent airport for nearly two hours.

The civilian King Air plane took off from Newcastle Airport at 8.30am on Monday and was headed towards Port Macquarie when the pilot noticed problems with the landing gear.

NSW Police Superintendent Wayne Humphrey said Schott, a 53-year-old from Queensland, piloted the plane above the airport hoping to resolve the glitch.

“It was determined the aircraft landing gear would not come back down and he stayed here and burnt off fuel,” he said.

“After some hours in the air, about 90 minutes burning off sufficient fuel, he made a textbook wheels-up landing.”

Footage of the landing showed the plane skidding on its underside as fire trucks and ambulances rushed to the tarmac.

The married couple who were on board the plane were on a surprise 60th birthday joy flight.

Michael and Ines Reynolds told Sunrise the pilot kept them informed the whole time.

“He was very calm and collected. Very professional. He saved the day. You saw the landing. It was absolutely amazing.”

“It was a great result … really well done by the pilot,” Humphrey said.

“I could hear him on the air, he sounded very calm to me.”

The shaken trio arrived safely back to the ground to cheers from the control room.

“We applauded, of course we did,” Humphrey said.

“Nobody got hurt [and] we’re very happy.”

For Schott the ordeal was just another day in the air.

“I learnt to fly before I could drive,” he said.

“Everything was thrown at us: Bad weather, the storm, there was about 20 pelicans downwind … so bird hazards”

The aircraft, which can carry about a dozen people, is operated by Eastern Air Services. It was a short way into its flight to Port Macquarie, about 200 kilometres north of Newcastle, when the problem was detected.

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