Pilot cheered for safe landing after gear failure

A pilot who successfully landed a plane on its belly and with broken landing gear has been applauded for his calm approach after battling bad weather, mechanical failures and a stream of pelicans.

Peter Schott was forced to make an emergency landing at an air force base north of Newcastle after circling the airport for nearly two hours.

The civilian King Air plane took off from Newcastle Airport at 8.30am on Monday and was headed towards Port Macquarie when the pilot noticed problems with the landing gear.

NSW Police Superintendent Wayne Humphrey said the 53-year-old Queensland man piloted the plane above the airport hoping to resolve the glitch.

"As a result, it was determined the aircraft landing gear would not come back down and he stayed here and burnt off fuel," he told reporters.

"After some hours in the air, about 90 minutes burning off sufficient fuel, he made a textbook wheels-up landing."

Footage of the landing showed the plane skidding on the underside of the body of the plane as fire trucks rushed to the tarmac.

Passenger Michael Reynolds praised the pilot's skill and calm demeanour in landing him and another 65-year-old female passenger to safety.

"He did a wonderful job ... he was 100 per cent calm all the time, you gotta give it to him," he told Nine News as the couple left the tarmac.

"It was a great result ... really well done by the pilot," Supt Humphrey said.

"I could hear him on the air, he sounded very calm to me."

The shaken trio arrived safely back to the ground to cheers from the control room.

"We applauded, of course we did," Supt Humphrey said.

"Nobody got hurt (and) we're very happy."

But for Mr Schott the ordeal was just another day in the air.

"I learnt to fly before I could drive," he said.

"Everything was thrown at us: bad weather, the storm, there was about 20 pelicans downwind ... so bird hazards"

The aircraft, which can carry about a dozen people, is listed as being operated by Eastern Air Services and was a short way into its flight to Port Macquarie, about 200km north of Newcastle, when the problem was detected.