Retractable Gear Systems

Even well-maintained systems can leave you sitting in the middle of the runway.

The first evidence of a retractable landing gear design was in Europe circa 1911, but a working example didnt show up on aircraft until after WWI. As airplanes got heavier and faster, meanwhile, airport infrastructure-which mainly consisted of an open field and a windsock- couldnt keep up. As a result, some of the fastest airplanes in the 1920s and 1930s were seaplanes, even with the aerodynamic drag their floats imposed. By the time WWII erupted, the latest airplanes were equipped with retractable landing gear, even if in a conventional, taildragging configuration. Still, many long-range, multi-engine airliners of the day were seaplanes.
To continue reading this article you must be a paid subscriber

Subscribe to Aviation Safety Magazine

The monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention, is packed with useful, timely information on basic and advanced technique, accident analysis and, most important, practical articles on how you can develop the judgment that will keep you in the air and out of the NTSB's files.