Small Jet with Busted Landing Gear Lands at Chino Airport

CHINO - A Learjet with faulty front landing gear circled LA/Ontario International Airport for more than an hour Thursday, before it was able to safely land at Chino Airport.

Neither the pilot nor a passenger on board were injured.

The front wheel of the model 55 Learjet became cocked at a 20- to 45-degree angle after a 4:45 a.m. take-off from French Valley Airport near Murrieta in southwestern Riverside County. The plane was headed to Palm Springs.

When the gear retracted after takeoff, a light went on that indicated a possible problem with the nose gear or door, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The pilot flew to ONT and radioed the air traffic control tower asking controllers there if any problem could be seen on the plane.

They told the pilot that the nose gear was not completely retracted, Gregor said.

The pilot flew around ONT for more than an hour to burn off fuel in the wing tanks.

At the end of the hour, the pilot had fuel only in the plane's center tank, which kept weight toward the back of the plane. That made it easier to keep the nose of the plane up before the landing, Gregor said.

The plane landed at Chino Airport about 7:15 a.m.

"He landed and kept the nose up until the last second," he said. "It's a picture-perfect landing."

The pilot and passenger's previous training made them well-prepared to deal with the situation, Gregor said.

Both the pilot and passenger have air transport pilot ratings and have practiced similar flight scenarios in simulations, Gregor said.

"That's a high pilot rating," Gregor said.

The names of the pilot and passenger were not available.

The plane was registered to Redlands company International Jet Fleet Holdings Inc., Gregor said.

"Initially, he reported he wanted to make an emergency landing at Ontario," Gregor said. "At some point he changed his mind and landed at Chino. In situations like this, being in air traffic control, we try to accommodate the pilot as much as possible."

Gregor said the pilot's maintenance company is based at Chino Airport, which may have led to the change in direction.

John Frymyer, airport manager for Chino Airport, said at least two or three times a year a "nose scare" occurs at Southern California airports.

The incident Thursday didn't cause any problems to operations at ONT or Chino Airport.

Staff writer Wes Woods II can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at (909) 483-9378.

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