A C-17 Globemaster III headed for MacDill Air Force Base on Friday afternoon landed “inadvertently” at the much smaller Peter O. Knight GA airport located just a few miles away, according to airport authorities.
The 174-foot-long transport touched down on the airport’s 3,405-foot-long, 100-foot-wide runway around 1:30 p.m., coming to a stop within 10 feet of the runway’s end, according to witnesses. The C-17 had flown in from Southwest Asia with 42 people on board, 19 of whom were crewmembers. View a shaky video capturing the landing below.
After making what authorities called the “unscheduled landing,” the C-17 spent hours on the tarmac at Peter O. Knight as officials worked to lighten its load so that it could take off again, at the hands of a new crew.
Dozens of spectators gathered to watch the airplane – which has the height of a five-story building and the wingspan of a football field – take off from the GA strip, which it did successfully shortly after 8 p.m. See a video of that takeoff below.
Air Force officials have not come out and called the landing accidental, but have said they are investigating the incident.
According to local residents, Peter O. Knight generally accommodates small single-engine airplanes and a handful of helicopters.
They say, however, that this is not the first time the airport has been confused for MacDill. One local resident told the Tampa Bay Times that a Boeing 727 mistakenly landed at Peter O. Knight back in the 80s, a mistake that required the dismemberment of the aircraft in order to get it out of the airport.
Peter O. Knight’s 4/22 runway is just a third of the length of the 4/22 runway at MacDill, which spans 11,421 feet.