I've heard stories of pilots landing wheels up and surviving/not totalling plane. How would they get the plane up so the wheels can be extended. I would imagine that there would be extensive damage and would make the plane almost unrecoverable. Is this so?
They'll wheel a crane out to the site and rig the jet with lifting straps. If the gear is deployable and can support the jet they'll tow it away. If not it'll be put on a trailer of some kind and it'll be trucked away. In the hangar they'll put it up on jacks and try to free the gear in a controlled setting.
Link has it. As for the severity of the damage, it all comes down to the type and composition of the aircraft (including vital parts underneath the aircraft, if any), landing speed, AOA at touchdown, and where you land.
Some aircraft have been written off after a gear up landing. Some, have been saved from greater damage by something as simple as wing tanks, or a centerline drop tank. The A-10 has partially recessed main landing gear just for this reason. Theory being, if it had come in shot up after a CAS and/or tank plinking mission, and couldn't get the gear down, it could at least land on the mains, and that would help to mitigate some of the damage.
When the C-17 landed gear up at Bagram, the crew caused about $25 million in damage to the aircraft. 96-0002 is currently being repaired at Long Beach, CA.
Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards actually helps serve as an IFE recovery field for military/government aircraft in the area that cannot lower their gear. An example of this was the B-1, 85-0070 which landed without the nose gear. Landing at Rogers instead of Dyess helped save the aircraft from greater damage. Once the aircraft was up on jacks, crews were able to lower the gear, and make some minor repairs. Then, the jet was as good as new, and returned to service at Dyess a few months later.
"He counted on America to be passive...He counted wrong." -- President Ronald Reagan
ya i imagine that a plane such as a c-5 could survive a gear up landing because its so big and has a large SA on the bottom that could distribute the weight. Also, it would have to land really slow and touch down carefully