Man unhurt after tough landing |

Man unhurt after tough landing

Juan Rodriguez, 65, of Grass Valley, was unhurt after landing his small airplane with the landing gear up over the weekend.

Rodriguez landed the 1947 North American Navion at Nevada County Airport at about 8:43 a.m. Saturday.

The vintage craft sustained minor damage: The propeller, an antenna mounted on the bottom of the fuselage and the inner hinges on the wing flaps were damaged.

The airport was closed to all traffic for about an hour until the plane was removed from the north side of Runway 25/07, the only runway at the facility on Loma Rica.

A tow truck raised up the Navion enough to extend the landing gear, then Nevada County Consolidated fire personnel and airport workers pushed it to a parking space near the runway.

No flights from the nearby Grass Valley Air Attack Base, jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service and the state Calfire agency to assist fires in the region, were affected by the closure. But one air attack craft – a spotter plane – was airborne at the time, and it circled the airport waiting to land.

North American Aviation, of Inglewood, was made famous by the P-51 Mustang fighter, considered by many to be the best single-engine fighter in World War II.

Robert Steuber is a local pilot. Messages for him can be left at 477-4230.

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