A Navy T-6 Texan II landed “gear up” on Runway 18 at the Aransas County Airport at 10:55 a.m. Monday, July 16.
Airport Manager Mike Geer said no one was hurt, but the aircraft was disabled.
“The Navy is working to remove it from the runway protection zone (RPZ) no later than Friday, July 20,” said Geer. “Runway 18 remains closed pending the removal and a Naval investigation.”
Geer, who did not witness the accident first hand, said he understands the landing gear was retracted after the first touch-and-go (T&G) and both the student and instructor failed to remember to put it down for the subsequent T&G.
“Normally they leave landing gear down while shooting approaches, however, the student retracted it after the first T&G on this occasion,” said Geer. “The T-6 Texan II has no audible alarm to indicate the condition of the landing gear. Pilots must rely on visual indicators.”
He said in the past the Navy utilized a Runway Duty Officer (RDO) to visually check for landing gear as trainers made their final approach. However, since the advent of the T-6, the RDO was eliminated.
Geer said the airport had a contract from 1987-2016 for space in the old cinder block hangar for an RDO office. Annual payments were in excess of $43,000 annually before the Navy did finally not renew the contract.
“T&G operations are not part of the contract and cannot be monetized due to the fact the airport has accepted federal grant monies during the last 50 years,” said Geer. “Aransas County is an enterprise operation funded by fuel sales, hangar rent, and land leases. Federal grants which are administered through TXDOT help pave runways and taxiways, as well as build hangars and other structures intended to draw aviation-related businesses to Rockport/Fulton.”