Skip to comments.Cause of surprise landing at Davis Islands airport unclear
Posted on 07/22/2012 7:21:23 AM PDT by csvset
Update: The plane took off from Peter O. Knight Airport about 8:30 p.m. Stay with TBO.com for updates.
Air Force officials are trying to figure out why an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet heading to MacDill Air Force Base instead landed at Peter O. Knight Airport this afternoon.
The plane, flown by a crew from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire Air Force Basee in New Jersey, was arriving from Southwest Asia carrying 23 passengers and 19 crew when it made an "unscheduled landing," according to Sgt David Carbajal, a McGuire spokesman. There appears to have been no damage to the aircraft or the airport, said Carbajal.
Air Force officials still do not know why the plane landed at the small civilian airfield on Davis Islands. The incident, said Carbajal, is under investigation.
The Air Force is planning to move the plane, said Carbajal, who did not immediately have details about how or when.
The flight was in support of U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill, Carbajal said.
Mistaken landings at nearby airfields are not unheard of across the country, but most occur at night by commercial or general aviation pilots. In 1980, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 727 bound for Tampa International Airport with 90 passengers landed safely in bad weather at MacDill.
The main runway at Peter O. Knight is 3,580 feet long and 100 feet wide, aligned in the same direction as MacDill's runway that is 11,421 feet long and 151 feet wide.
An unloaded C-17 is able to take off on an austere runway 90 feet wide and as short as 3,000 feet load, depending upon its fuel load and local temperatures, according to various Air Force and Government Accountability Office documents.
Ryan Gucwa, a pilot, was getting ready to get in his Piper Navajo and take off from the airport when he looked up and saw "this huge C-17 coming in over the top of the shipping port."
Seeing military airplanes over Peter O. Knight was not unusual, Gucwa said, but "this was only 100 feet off the ground and that is bizarre. Once the wheels touched the ground, I was terrified that there was no way to stop in time."
The nose landing gear of the cargo jet stopped about six to 10 feet from the end of the runway, said Gucwa, who took cell phone video of the landing.
The plane, he said, had markings from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Officials there would not immediately comment.
The landing surprised people who work in downtown Tampa office towers.
Frank Kilgore, a pricing manager for Hapag-Lloyd, an international shipping firm with office in the Suntrust Tower, said he heard someone in his office yell that the plane was on a final approach to the small municipal airport on Davis Islands.
"I knew immediately that it was not right," Kilgore said.
Commercial real estate broker Jason Donald was looking out his office window in a downtown skyscraper and saw the plane pass low over the fuel tanks in the Port of Tampa, then turn south towards Peter O. Knight.
"I face directly over the Bay and saw that plane come in so fast and thought to myself 'Never in a million years is he going to make it,'" Donald said. "I was waiting for flames."
There seemed to be a moment when the pilot realized the mistake, Donald said, but too late.
"He was carrying so much speed, I thought, 'This is not going to happen,'" he said. "If his front tire was not in the grass at the end of the runway, he was darn close."
It took about 17 seconds from the time the cargo jet's wheels touched down to time it came to a screeching halt near the end of the runway, according to video taken by Ryan Gucwa, who was at the scene.
The Peter O. Knight Airport is not equipped with a control tower. Aircraft rely on radio communications for landings there.
Federal Aviation Administration controllers at Tampa International Airport provide approach control to aircraft landing at MacDill and hand off aircraft to the MacDill tower when aircraft are about 10 miles out.
Peter O. Knight Airport is temporarily closed as the Air Force works to move the plane, Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said. Neither the C-17 nor the airfield was damaged, airport and Air Force officials said.
” Oops! “
The pilot just *knew* he shoulda took dat left toin at Albakoikey.....
Link it satellite picture of the two airports. The base is south west of where he landed. Slight difference in the size of the places that should be noticeable.
As you can see in the video, the C-17, with its load considerably lightened, left Peter O. Knight Airport on Friday evening for the short hop to MacDill.
No excuse for this sort of thing, but it has happened. There are three airfields in close proximity in Tampa; Peter O. Knight (general aviation); Tampa International and MacDill AFB. Pilots fly roughly the same approach heading for all three runways and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself lined up for the wrong runway at the wrong airport.
Over the past 30 years, there have been at least four planes that have landed at the wrong airport in Tampa. Most have been jetliners heading to Tampa International who touched down at MacDill instead. Quite a feat of airmanship to stop the C-17 on Knight’s 3,000 foot runway, and get it airborne from the same strip.
The C-17 in question was returning from Southwest Asia, with 19 crew members and 23 passengers. Appears to have been a rotator flight, with C-17 crews returning to the states after a deployment. The normal crew for a C-17 on this flight would be 2-3 pilots and 2-3 loadmasters. Incidentally, the C-17 and its crew are assigned to the 305th Airlift Wing at McGuire AFB, NJ.
Why don't they ask the pilot?
I’ll give him an “A” for the landing.
And a “D-” for the navigation.
I think the pilot just felt like showing off the capabilities of the C-17. Pretty awesome if you ask me!!!
This year’s bumper crop from the Golden Triangle?
Stopped on a dime and gave nine cents in change.
Something is not stacking up here. If this was just a mistake how did they know to do this...?
Minutes later, witnesses saw a caravan of military vehicles respond to the runway, retrieve the crew and begin to haul away cargo.
Minutes? Those boys were in a pretty big hurry to get whatever off the plane. I would think someone with shiny things on their uniform would want to have a look-see first.
Peter O. Knight Airport is temporarily closed as the Air Force works to move the plane, Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said.
But yesterday they said this.
The drama ended at 8:27 p.m., when the C-17 Globemaster III took a hop over Hillsborough Bay to MacDill, the original destination. It landed just a few minutes later.
Sooo, there is a C-17 that lands off-base with a "caravan" of cargo trucks that arrive in "minutes" and the aircraft returns to MacDill at exactly 8:27 pm yesterday but the General Aviation airport is "is temporarily closed as the Air Force works to move the plane."
Yeah, nothing strange about that.
And all this is happening in Tampa.
Tampa... I heard there is some kind of event going on there in a few weeks... hummm.
The pilot has dine everything he can with McDonnell-Douglas equipment. From now on he’ll be piloting something from Steelcase.
This is doable but not too comfortable for the passengers!
It left Peter O. Knight Airport Friday night...
I was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord yesterday for their air show. They did a demonstration of what the C-17 could do. A 3850-foot runway was nothing for this plane. Granted...the plane yesterday at McChord was likely only carrying its own crew and nothing else. Still, it has excelent short-field take-off and landing capabilities.
I do, however, doubt the pilot will ever fly for the Air Force again.
If you’re brewing a conspiracy theory about this, let me respectfully say that I think you’re reaching a bit far.
When I was in flight school in Kingsville TX a Continental crew landed a loaded airliner at Cabaniss Field in Corpus Christi. They had to fly it out empty.
I certainly hope that's not true.
We first of all we don't know which seat was at the controls. Plus the pilot in command usually doesn't do the navigating.
Beyond all that, the skill and ability to perform a very short field landing flawlessly in a flying building is the most difficult flying skill of all.
One source has General Mattis of the US Central Command on board when it landed.
Could’ve been in the right/left seat
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