C-17 Lands at wrong airport

Glenn Quagmire

Apr 30, 2012

A large military cargo plane that was supposed to go to MacDill Air Force Base landed at the wrong, much smaller airport on Davis Islands in Tampa on Friday afternoon.
The large place landed at the relatively small Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa around 1:30 p.m. The military aircraft is a C-17 Globemaster, according to officials at the airport. The airport is at the southern tip of Davis Islands, south of downtown.

Officials have not stated why exactly the plane landed at the airport and not MacDill. In a statement Friday evening, Tampa International Airport spokesperson Janet Zink, speaking on behalf of Knight Airport, said the large plane was meant to go to MacDill Air Force Base, but "inadvertently" landed at the small airport instead. Zink also said the airport is shut down as crews from the AFB work to "reposition the plane as soon as possible."

MacDill AFB spokesperson MSgt Bryan Gatewood said they have a representative at the scene and are working on determine the details of the landing.

"According to military sources, the plane poses no danger to Tampa residents," Zink said.

Former Merchant Marine Officer Scott Pooler said the Knight Airport landing strip and the MacDill AFB landing strips are very close. According to Pooler, "the two runways are only 4 degrees different on approach headings."

According to the Boeing company's website, the "C-17 can carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world day or night. The massive, sturdy, long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions. It has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s."

The plane can take off from a 7,600-foot airfield and land in 3,000 feet or less on a small unpaved or paved airfield in day or night, according to Boeing.

After spending much of the afternoon still on the tarmac, the plane finally took off.

Peter O. Knight Airport is a general aviation airport operated by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Zink said.