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7 Answers

Use of fake landing gear switch for training?

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General Aviation

Has any instructor out there heard of using a "dummy" or fake landing gear switch on a fixed-gear aircraft to help reinforce the importance of putting the gear down as part of landing procedures?  I fly a Cessna 182, but someday would like to step up to a retractable gear plane.  Seems it would be very good to get in the habit NOW, of "putting the gear down" as part of my landing checklist.  I know this may seem a bit crazy, but still wonder if any instructor ever heard of this. 

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7 Answers

  1. Bob Watson on Mar 30, 2013

    I haven’t heard of such a thing, but when you do move into a retractable-gear plane, you’ll have some transition training in which you’ll be moving the gear lever up and down many times. After which, you’ll have a new habit that should last quite a while (mine still has, anyway).

    That you’re concerned about it now, gives me the impression that you’ll be more than conscientious in an RG plane. The biggest thing to watch out for is distractions in the downwind-base-final phase that break your routine or habit. To counter that, in every plane I fly (RG or fixed), when I see the numbers ahead of me on short final, I always confirm the gear is down and locked or welded, as the case may be. As a renter, I fly both so it’s good to develop a habit that works in every case.

    Rather than a new know in the panel, you could just add a line to your pre-touchdown checklist (it’s a lot cheaper and doesn’t require a mechanic to install).

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  2. Jim F. on Mar 30, 2013

    On base, I use GUMPS regardles of it being an RG or stiff-leg, and glance out the window and hear indicator to confirm.

    On short final, I say, “final gear, final clear” again, regardless of aircraft, along with a quick glance out the window and at the gear indicator.

    So combine those with the checklist, and there’s three opportunists to ensure I didn’t miss putting the gear down.

    I think putting a fake hear handle on the panel is unnecessary. Start using some memory items like my examples, and at most, pretend to lower the gear by moving and imaginary handle. I don’t think having a real one there will benefit you any more.

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  3. Matthew Waugh on Mar 30, 2013

    Yes I have heard of it. I think Sporty’s sells such a handle, I’ve certainly seen them in catalogs somewhere.

    I can imagine training environments in which it makes sense, but the circumstance you describe does not appear to be one of them. What’s next, fake prop controls, fake cowl flaps, fake spoilers, fake FMS, fake fire bottles, fake auto-pilot – well you get the point.

    Learn to fly the plane you’re in, when you change planes, learn to fly that one.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Mar 31, 2013

    I’ve seen them in the past in the Sporty’s catalog. Mat expressed a mild version of my complete disdain for the concept. As soon as I saw it the first time, it struck me that the only thing it would teach you is that failing to “extend” the gear has no consequences whatsoever. That’s a heck of a thing to learn in preparation for retracts.

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  5. Cory on Apr 01, 2013

    A student of mine has one in his Beech Musketeer. I think that it does help reinforce muscle memory and to look for the Gear Down Green light. Whether in an Ercoupe, a Warrior, or a C-310, I always go through the GUMPS check in the pattern, and look for and call “Red, Blue, Green” on short final. (Mixture – Rich, Prop – Forward, Landing Gear – Down & Locked).

    My opinion is that the dummy handle does help reinforce the steps as you prepare to move up to complex, and anything you can do to help prevent a $30,000 landing is a good thing.

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  6. Frank Otero on Jan 18, 2014

    I ran into this as I just thought of the concept – see that I am very late for such invention lol.

    I disagree with those who claim this training aid has no merit and that adding items to your landing checklist should be enough.

    How about take off, or go around? How many of you actually think of the gear in a stiff leg? Where do you look for three greens? Not to mention that it will also serve as a strong reminder for the student that they forgot to put the gear down (or up) – but without the cost.

    I agree with Cory that such device will help the pilot who will move up to more complex aircrafts – especially beyond pistons. Just the habit of leaving your hand on the gear handle until the cycle is completed is worth sticking the device in there to develop the habit and muscle memory.

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  7. Tom Kelley on Jan 18, 2014

    Thanks for the response Frank.

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