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Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 6:25 am

Does anyone have any stories about airliners landing at the wrong airport? The most famous one I can think of occured in 1968. A United DC-8 enroute from Chicago to Portland, OR (PDX) landed by mistake at Troutdale, OR (TTD). At the time, Troutdale was a small strip about 4,000 feet long. The airport is located about 8 miles east of PDX and the runways nearly line up. The DC-8 pilot broke out of the clouds, saw the runway lights, assumed it was PDX and landed. The DC-8 had to be stripped of all excess weight, including most of its fuel, and was flown the final 8 miles to PDX.
those who have no vices have very few virtues
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 7:58 am

I do that all the time, on MS Flight Sim 98!!!!!

Going to MIA, land af FLL> Stuff like that, JFK>LGA~happens all the time!

RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 9:01 am

So do I. I was on a flight from SLC to TUS ATC controlled by Proflight 98 in FS98. I forgot midflight that I was going to TUS and started my approach to PHX. I couldn't figure out why ATC kept telling me to climb to FL210, so I ignored them. On final to runway 28R I realized I was landing at the wrong airport and pulled up with full flaps and gear down at 350ft. Dang! It was a perfect approach too.   The landing at TUS could have been better, I was too far left of the runway centerline and just about ran off the runway! I hate crosswinds! I'm glad FS isn't real, or I'd be fired by now for my fouled up landings.
Ahhh. The joys of ATC generation with Proflight!

DL 604

RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 9:50 am

Somewhat recently, a Continental 737 heading for Corpus Christi, TX instead landed at an old military base that was alligned with the Corpus Christi airport.

As the aircraft went below the clouds and they were visual, the crew saw a runway and set her down! The runway, as I understand it, was considerably shorter than the one they wanted to land on, so they were lucky not to overrun.

The passengers were carried by bus to the proper airport. I know the flight crew was suspended, but I don't know of their ultimate fate. A new crew was brought in to fly the airplane out of there.

That's all I know--anyone care to elaborate?
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 3:11 pm

In regards to this flight mentioned earlier, I seem to recall that the crew was on a localizer approach into CCI, and that the runway of the closed airport was aligned exactly with the localizer, and approximately 3 miles from CCI. The crew picked up the runway visually, and went VFR for the landing. Seconds above the runway, they realized they were at the wrong airport, but continued to landing for safety reasons.

There was also another incident that happene a few years ago in Kentucky with Delta 737-200 The aircraft was flying Louisville, KY (SDF) to Lexington, KY (LEX) in night VFR flight. Both Louisville and Lexington TRACONs were closed, as was Lexington TWR. The flight was cleared for takeoff from Louisville, and cleared direct to Lexington for a visual approach. Since the tower was closed, landing would be at discretion of the crew. Approximately 17 miles from Lexington, the crew spotted the runway lights of Frankfort's Capital City Airport (FFT), and with the runways at FFT and LEX being aligned in approximately the same orientation, landed in Frankfort. They were about 12 miles from mile flight to Lexington, and it was ferried to be reassembled.their actual destination. The runway at Frankfort, being quite short, was unable to accomodate the 737 for a normal takeoff, and all seats and unneccesaries were removed, the plane was fueled just enough for the 12


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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 8:21 pm

There have been many incidents involving planes landing at the wrong airport. A friend of mine was Flight Loadmaster on a Dan Air 748 that was supposed to be going to Belfast Aldergrove. Unfortunately the captain could not be dissuaded from landing at a disused GA field near-by. The first officer stood up and was shouting into the CVR area mic, "I dissassociate myself from this flight! I have nothing more to do with it!" Even after they landed, the captain refused to believe he had made a mistake, abusing the tower for not sending a Follow Me truck out to meet them. The tower's very sensible defence was that they hadn't landed yet. "Yes we have, we're on turnoff three, taxiway alpha [or whatever]!" "...Um, no you're not." A BEA flight to Paris was lined up for landing at the wrong field and again, the first officer had spotted the mistake. Unfortunately this was the fifties and the captain did not take to the first officer's remarks. After they landed, the captain realised his mistake and told the first officer to radio ahead to Le Bourget and tell them they would be late. "I already did, sir." "When?!" "When we were on finals. Sir." Reminds me of another domineering BEA captain annecdote-ette, they were very close to the ground, houses getting very big etc, and the captain had still not asked for the gear to be lowered. Unable to take the suspense any longer, the first officer (in contravention of all known cockpit etiquette of the day) piped up and enquired if the captain might like the gear. "I will ask for the gear when I am good and ready!" A pause of approx 0.001 secs. "GEAR DOWN!" The worst illegal landing incident I heard of in recent times was a British Island Airways BAC111 that landed on the parallel taxiway in bad visibility at Gatwick. The only thing that avoided a potential five-aircraft pile-up was the fact that the taxiiway was empty at the time. A Delta TriStar was lined up to land at Northolt, a tiny WW2 field in West London, when it was supposed to be landing at Gatwick, 60 miles away. The controller asked the flight as politely as possible if they "knew what they were doing." The most embarrassing incident would have to be the NW DC10 that was lined up to land at Brussels (Belgium) when it was supposed to be landing at Amsterdam. Every single passenger knew cos they were watching the entire debacle unfold on the moving map screens. That's like flying from LA to NY and seeing the CN Tower (Toronto) flash past at eye level as you begin the final approach. Oops.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Thu Sep 02, 1999 11:41 pm

Somewhere in the 70s a Spantax CV.990 managed to land at the Airbus (that time MBB) strip just south of the river Elbe while on approach to Hamburg. It landed and literally came to stop metres before the water! Passengers were brought to their destination by bus and to get the Coronado airborne again they even needed to take out (some) seats!
One might say typically Spantax but at least the Airbus strip is only a few miles before the 'real' airport and both the Airbus strip and Hamburg Airport's runways are 05-23. registered User #136 :mrgreen:
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Fri Sep 03, 1999 1:04 am

There was an incident some years back when a turkish 727 (don't remember the airline, could've been now-defunct Sunways) _almost_ landed on a *very* short runway in Helsinki-Malmi, a general aviation airport just ten km or so from Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) where they were supposed to land (and fortunately did in the end). Had the jet actully landed on the tiny few-hundred-meter strip the results would certainly have been catastrophical. Fortunately the pilot noticed his error and pulled up in the last possible moment.

Hard to believe this sort of misjudgements can be made by a highly-trained, experienced professional... but maybe he wasn't one.

RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Fri Sep 03, 1999 1:20 am

I was on a plane I dont remember the date or the type of plane, at the time because I was not very involved in Comercial Aviation at the time. I was coming from MSP. Our plane was heading for DTW but we were about to land at Grand Rapids. When we flew past and made a landing at DTW. It was a close call we could have been delayed all night.
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Fri Sep 03, 1999 1:27 am

Last year, a Saudi 747 landed at a military airbase near Chennai (Madras), India. No damage, but the aircraft had to leave considerably lighter than when it arrived.
There were some reports - although not for many years now - of aircraft landing at Northolt, just 3-4 miles north of LHR, in error. Another unfortunate pairing is Bombay and Juhu. Because airports, wherever possible have runways aligned with the prevailing wind, they will often have runways with similar alignment, making errors a little more understandable (as in the case of the Spantax CV990 near Hamburg, mentioned above). However, airlines more often than not, are not sympathetic towards their erring crews . . .
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NW Landing At BRU

Fri Sep 03, 1999 8:54 am

These are all great stories. Short of doctors removing the wrong limb or organ, these anecdotes are the most puzzling of professional mistakes.

Cedarjet, regarding the NW DC-10 which landed at Brussels, I think it's intended destination was FRA, not AMS (hence an even bigger mistake of some 200 mi.) As I recall, as the NW flight approached the continent, ATC in Ireland assigned the flight the incorrect destination code, and subsequent controllers and the pilots failed to notice the navigational digression. Since both AMS and FRA have a 07/25 L/R configuration, furthermore, the pilots failed to notice they were approaching the wrong field. If I remember correctly, the NW crew couldn't complete the flight to FRA because of duty time restrictions!

RE: Turkish 727 @ Malmi

Fri Sep 03, 1999 12:20 pm


If I remember right, the Turkish 727 actually landed at Helsinki-Malmi. The Turkish plane was on finals for Vantaa when he accidentally landed on rwy 18/36 at Malmi, mistaking it for 15/33 at Vantaa. Eventually they got it to Vantaa, I'm not sure how.  

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Fri Sep 03, 1999 9:18 pm


I'm pretty sure they didn't land at Malmi, since RWY 18/36 there is just 3000 feet or so. And ACTUALLY I believe they were about to land on a stretch of taxiway (it may still have been an active runway back then) which is even shorter! It's more aligned with EFHK 33 than rwy 36 which is tens of degrees off...

Well I'm not 100% on this one, so if someone could please confirm this thing... and which airline was it anyway? Not the notorious Sunways, by any chance?

- Hagi
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Sat Sep 04, 1999 7:22 am

There was a mistaken landing herein Columbus in around 1981. It involved a TWA 707 landing at CMH. Instead the aircraft landed at Don Scott Field, a general aviation airport owned by Ohio State universtiy. I don't know how they got it out of Don Scott, but there is a picture of the plane on the tarmac at Don Scott's small terminal.
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RE: Wrong Airport Landings

Sat Sep 04, 1999 12:32 pm

I do not know how many of you are familiar with Texas' Lower Rio Grande valley. back in the days of regulation, three cities down there received airline service: Braniff at Brownsville and Trans-Texas (later Texas International, now Continental) at Harlingen & McAllen.

Back in the fall of 1948 my dad was the Station manager for TTA in Harlingen. Harlingen is probably 20 nm North of the Brownsville airport.

A Braniff DC3 surprised him by landing in Harlingen with a full load of passengers from Dallas & San Antonio. It taxiied on up to the terminal before the Captain realized he wasn't in Brownsville. He thought momentarily about taking it back out to the runway and heading for Brownsville but elected not to.

Since the industry was regulated, and Braniff did not have route authority to fly passengers out of Harlingen...had he taken off it would have been a federal issue.

Instead, the passengers deplaned and after a while, a TTA flight came in....they loaded up the folks on that DC3 and flew them the rest of the way to Brownsville.

The funniest thing about this case was the BN pilots were talking to the BRO tower all the way in to "We're coming across the fence now..." "Well, we sure as heck don't see you."
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Hagi: Not Sunways

Sat Sep 04, 1999 6:10 pm

Sunways never had 727s (MD-80s, B757s). It may have been TUR, Toros Air, KTHY, THY, Sultan Air, Bosphorus Air, Air Alfa, .... ? registered User #136 :mrgreen:

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