Pilot of Mystery Plane on Boeing 747 Wrong-Airport Incident

Pilot of second plane details incident.

Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

** Boeing 747 Dreamlifter**

The pilot of the airplane that ATC saw flying a missed approach after the Boeing 747-400 Dreamlifter landed on the too-short runway at Jabara in Wichita Sunday night has spoken with Flying about his experience.

The corporate pilot, who asked to remain nameless in this story, was inbound to Jabara "around 50 miles out," deadheading solo in his company's turboprop twin when Kansas City called the traffic passing above him bound for Wichita's McConnell Air Force Base. He spotted the "747 Heavy" traffic — it was no factor — and continued his arrival. With Jabara lit up brightly — it was the only airport in the area that was brightly lit at the time, he told Flying — he cancelled his IFR clearance and went to the advisory frequency at Jabara.

That is when things turned a little strange. He spotted an airplane seemingly on approach to Jabara, which made him wonder why he hadn't heard ATC advise him of the traffic. Then again, he thought, traffic inbound for McConnell clips Jabara's airspace, so if it were the 747 — he did not yet know it was a Dreamlifter — that in itself would not be surprising. He set up on a long final and saw an airplane landing at Jabara. At that point he concluded it must have been a second airplane that had not been talking to Wichita Approach Control. The pilot told Flying he spotted the airplane still on the runway while he was on short final for Jabara's Runway 18. At that point, he overflew the runway at "200 or 300 feet" to the right of the 747 making the missed approach. It was only at that point that he realized the airplane had gotten stuck on the runway, as the taxiways were far too small for the 747's wide gear.

Other media outlets have reported that an airplane landed soon thereafter. If so, it would have been the last airplane to land there for awhile. Jabara was soon closed by the FAA to all traffic, until the following day when the Dreamlifter, having had fuel and cargo offloaded, made its way off the 6,000-foot runway for a couple-minute flight to McConnell.

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the landing of the Dreamlifter at the wrong airport, though it is not clear what, if any, violations the crew might have committed in the mistaken landing there.

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