Thursday, November 21, 2013

Too Many Airports: Dreamlifter Lands at Wrong Wichita Airport

UPDATE: 11:34am. The live stream is here.

Update: 11:23am. Wichita's KWCH TV is going to televise the take off. It is scheduled for "around noon" and it will be broadcast over-the-air and on their web site per email from KWCH President Joan Barrett.

Original Posting:

Boeing's Dreamlifter lands at the wrong Wichita airport. Its goal was McConnell AFB and it landed at Jabara Airport about 10:30pm yesterday evening. 
Dreamlifter taking off on a happier day
The Dreamlifter is a giant modified 747 that is built to carry the fuselages of Boeings 787 Dreamliner from Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita to Seattle. Spirit, McConnell AFB and Boeing share runways.

Here is the problem: It needs 9,199 ft. to take off. Jabara's runway is 6,101 ft. It is so big, they have had to close Jabara. Buzzfeed has a great report including tower tapes. 
Photo by Alex Hunt and Caleb Carey. 
As you know, Wichita is the "Air Capital of the World" because more planes are made here than any other city.

There are two public airports: Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport where the commercial flights land and Jabara Airport where general aviation flights land and take off. Cessna and Learjet use Mid-Continent's runways.

Beechcraft has its own airport. There are numerous small airports.

One would think in this era of GPS this couldn't happen… but it did. Now, they are trying to figure out how to get it out of there. Tentative plans are to try to fly it out around noon.

UPDATE: Here is a photo I took of the plane at the north end of Jabara's runway. It was raining lightly with a low ceiling.


  1. Mike,

    This could have been a weather forecast post!

    Jabara runway is 18-36.
    The weather forecast in Wichita is for North winds at 10-15 increasing to 20-25 gusts to 30 in the afternoon, temps falling into the 30s.

    Obviously, they are waiting for the arctic front to arrive! Cold dense windy air, and an empty plane means they can get it out on runway 36.

    If they had made this mistake in summer, the plane would be stuck for six months.

  2. Similar thing happened in 2001 when a TWA plane landed at Craig instead of Steamboat/Hayden. The TWA plane proceeded to get a wheel stuck in the mud since the Craig airport isn't designed to handle MD-80s. So not quite as bad as this incident, but still amazing there was a breakdown in basic flight quality control.

  3. About 8-10 years ago a NorthWest flight landed at Ellsworth Air Force base in Rapid City instead of at the regional airport.


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