17 Year Old on Solo Loses Landing Gear

This is a topic which I assumed would have been posted on here already, and one which I was surprised to not find (I gave a thorough search for this topic but couldn’t find anything).

On Sunday, September 9th, a student pilot on her solo lost her right main landing gear strut and tire on takeoff, triggering a necessary emergency landing. Maggie Taraska, the pilot on the flight, was informed by ATC shortly after rotation that her right main gear was no longer attached to the aircraft. After receiving instruction from ATC to circle the field, the obviously shaken student regained composure and, with the help of her instructor on the ground, executed an emergency landing.

I was amazed when I heard this story, and props to Maggie for pulling this one off. This situation, however, demonstrates the importance of a proper preflight. We can take for granted maintenance and airworthiness certs, and can certainly get used to our planes being on the line and ready to fly. It will be interesting to see what the conclusion from the NTSB is moving forward as to what exactly caused the right main gear to become separated from the aircraft on this flight.

Below are the ATC from the incident, as well as a local news story chronicling the event. In the end, this was some great flying on Maggie’s part, and she should be proud of her performance in handling this emergency.

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I’m glad she made it down safely with the help of her instructor

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I agree. She and the Instructor did an excellent job managing the situation.

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Read this the day it occurred. Kudos to the ATC as well, she kept her calm and kept the pilot calm as well. I could hear the fear in her voice at the start but Job well done!

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Actually, one of my issues with this situation is with ATC. They knew she was a student solo and still didn’t shut down the airport. They allowed two other planes to land when there are plenty of other airports in that area they could have gone to. Not sure why you don’t deny them entry and give her all the space she needed. Granted, this situation had a favorable outcome, so i’m not sure it matters at this point

They needed time to get the landing gear and examine it, get the instructors, and call emergency personnel. While that’s all going on, might as well get the scheduled traffic in…

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Its a GA airport, I doubt those flights were scheduled, at least as far as 121 ops go. I agree that time was needed to coordinate the response, but why add pressure to her by saying “oh by the way, watch for landing traffic while you’re processing that you’re about to land without a main”? I know ATC has the authority to make that call here, but it seems like an unnecessary decision to allow traffic to come in when that area is saturated in airports that would have been fine alternates

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Probably not 121 but still potentially IFR flightplans, schedules (if only personal ones) to meet, and a lot of that is just flying rectangles and looking for the traffic. Might even help the pilot concentrate, who knows! It’s a moot point cause all is said and done though, I’m just happy it ended well. It would be interesting to hear the thought process from the ATC point of view though.

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The explanation that will come out in the next year or so will be an interesting read. I agree, I’m interested to hear what ATC was thinking, as well as what the maintenance logs are like for that aircraft.

Side note: If I was a major airline, I would be calling her right now offering to pay for the rest of her flight training if she came and flew for my airline. Talk about great PR.

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Dang that’s impressive. Not many trainee pilots could do that.

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Saw this a couple days ago, she sounded scared. Hopefully she gets back to flying soon!

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Yeah I hope so also. That’s the type of event that can permanently derail an aviation career. Best to get back up ASAP (with an instructor, of course).

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Best to get back up with a full set of landing gear IMO.

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Someone is for sure losing their job after this one

She landed the plane a couple towns away from where I live!

Not only was it a student solo. It was her first solo so she’s definitely feeling the pressure. Kudos to her for successfully bringing it down

So I’ve seen conflicting reports about that. Initially it was labeled as her first solo, then in the new article I linked, it was described as a solo XC. I’m not sure which is accurate. In any case, this was an amazing feat accomplished by this pilot.

Btw, if you have any sources/updated info about which solo it was, please share. I’d love to give it a read

I would just like to add that the little light planted into the ground remained intact and was stronger than the wing :D
But seriously, congratulations to the pilot; I guess her instructor taught her well!

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And to add to that, demonstrates how thin the wings are.

I remember the first time I took a wing apart and was shocked with how little is there. You expect a big, beefy piece of metal, but it’s just a few mm thick of aluminum. Pretty neat to see.

Huge props to the student pilot… I actually read about this a few days ago, as it happened (kinda) in my neck of the woods. Great job by the pilot, instructor, and ATC! That’s one exciting story she can tell for the rest of her life haha!

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