Sometimes there's only one way to know if a plane's landing gear is properly extended: put it down on the tarmac and find out.

That is what a twin-engine private plane did Tuesday at Rapid City Regional Airport. But before it touched down, emergency crews set up in case the landing went bad, Pete Girtz, deputy director of operations, Wednesday.

"In the eyes of the flying world," Girtz said, "landing gear not coming down is a fairly critical malfunction of the aircraft."

It began as the plane called the tower at 3:43 p.m., with the plane's instruments stating its landing gear wasn't properly down, according to a report from the Rapid City Fire Department.

So the plane's occupants, who weren't identified, lowered the gear manually, according to Girtz. The plane, a twin-engine propeller aircraft made by Beechcraft known as the King Air then made a pass close to the runway so the tower crew could get a look at the gear.

The gear looked to be down and the pilot set the plane down safely.

"It does happen on occasions, but it's very rare," said Girtz. "The typical thing we get out here is a blown tire."

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Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or joe.osullivan@rapidcityjournal.com

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