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Student, pilot unhurt when plane crashes without landing gear

A student pilot and her instructor escaped injury Monday morning when their four-seat Cessna plane landed without its manual landing gear engaged at the Petaluma Municipal Airport, Petaluma police said.

The plane skidded on its belly 685 feet on the asphalt east runway before it stopped, and it didn’t catch fire, police Sgt. Nick McGowan said. The student pilot, Mary Pappas-Elliff, of Santa Rosa, and flight instructor Ed Dalbec, of Cloverdale, left the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport to practice landing.

They did not experience any problems in the air but it appears Pappas-Elliff, who was flying the plane, neglected to engage the landing gear when they landed at the Petaluma airport, McGowan said.

Police were informed around 11 a.m. of the crash, which damaged the front propeller and the underbelly of the plane, McGowan said.

Petaluma police reported the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will handle the investigation, McGowan said.

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