There were several tense hours of uncertainty while Pete Michaels buzzed over downtown Knoxville, burning off fuel to increase his chances of a safe landing. Those hours of waiting for just the right time to land provided our Eye in the Sky with an opportunity to pray and to talk with loved ones for what could have been a final time.
Pete Michaels takes a look back on those do-or-die hours with our Gary Loe.
As you may know, Pete Michaels doesn't let his guard down too often, but he shares some of his personal moments during those crucial hours just before attempting his emergency landing earlier Tuesday.
Eye in the Sky pilot Pete Michaels appears calm in this cockpit video throughout the 3 hours he spent high above the downtown Island Home Airport runway.
You can see our airborne traffic reporter talking on aviation and police radios while limiting the risk of a potential explosion on landing by emptying his 90-gallon fuel tank.
"I found things to do," Michaels said.
Later, he painstakingly goes over an emergency landing checklist, secures on-board equipment and talks to loved ones on a cell phone.
"you learn that when people call up and say we've got lots of prayers for you, you know what, that's highly under rated, and so if folks take time to say a few prayers, that helps," Michaels said.
The landing gear problems of Michaels' Cessna 182 retractable made national news, but didn't reach Pete's parents, who were on a flight of their own to visit another son in Florida.
"It's strange how that works, but I didn't want to cause my friends and family any sorrow," Michaels said. "So, of course at that point you think, I hope this thing turns out okay so they have an enjoyable Christmas."
Michaels has logged 25,000 flying hours over a 30 year traffic reporting career. This flight, he asked for, and received a safe emergency landing.
"Base to final, I said my prayers, I didn't say them out of fear, I didn't say them out of desperation," Michaels said. "And without prayers that needed to be said to the proper authority, then you know you were assuming a whole lot that you could do this on your own."
Pete Michaels says he may fly again as early as Wednesday, if he can get his back-up plane prepped in time. However, he says more than likely, he'll wait until repairs are made to the aircraft he flew Tuesday since it's equipped with television and weather-related equipment. By the way, Pete had another gear-up landing 20-years ago. He wasn't hurt that time either.