C-17 Landing at Wrong Airport Blamed on Fatigue

Update: The Stars and Stripes reports on the corrective actions put in place to prevent future aircraft from misidentifying the runways.


The Tampa Tribune obtained the report of last July’s “unscheduled landing” of a C-17 at Peter O. Knight airport in Florida — when it was supposed to land at MacDill Air Force Base a few miles away.

The crew of a military cargo jet landed at the wrong airport in Tampa in July, in part, because of fatigue, complacency and a lack of flight discipline, an Air Force investigation has found.

Fortunately, the crew realized their error and were able to stop before the end of the very short runway.  The article also notes General James Mattis, the leader of US Central Command, was on the airplane at the time.  He seemed to have an understanding attitude:

“It was just human error,” Mattis wrote. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my time, and some were real doozies (worse than landing at the wrong airstrip). The Marine Corps kept their sense of humor throughout my checkered career and allowed me to move onward and upward.”

Repeated at the Stars and Stripes.

One reply to “C-17 Landing at Wrong Airport Blamed on Fatigue

  1. Daniel Sparks

    In a similar situation, some of my soldiers returning from leave were flown on a C-17 to the wrong country! They were en route from the US to Afghanistan. The flight they boarded in Kuwait was supposed to land at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan but went to Manas, Kyrgyzstan instead. The pilot didn’t realize he’d made a mistake until the passengers told him they were in the wrong place. No word on the cause of this mistake, but everyone took it simply as another inconvenience of war. After all, there are worse problems in combat than a few extra hours of sleep packed in between the seats of a giant plane that is so loud it requires ear plugs.

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