Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dreamlifter's nightmare.

A modified 747, one of only 4, flies from Seattle to Japan, or Italy, or Kansas every few days to pick up sections of the 787 fuselage or wing and haul them to assembly in Seattle. This morning Boeing may be down to only 3. Last night one landed in Wichita at the wrong airport. 6 miles north of McConnell AFB shared runway with the aircraft builder Spirit (the former Boeing factory sold to the Canadians). Anywho, they landed at Jabara Airport, named for a Syrian emigrant who became a Korean War Ace fighter pilot. Jabara Airport is a couple miles from the Koch Brothers homes and their headquarters.  It caters to small jets owned by the 1%ers of Kansas.   The picture shows the plane laying under our current grey sky.  
The problem it's certified for 9,119 ft. take off, Jabara has 6,100.  Well, they can wait a couple days for temps to fall to freezing, that helps, they can use that time to take out some of the gear that moves and secures freight, that might lower the weight a few ton, they can take off with minimum fuel for the short flight, they can take down the chain link fence.  To the south are high end medical clinics and hundreds of expensive homes, to the north is a mix of open land and 5 acre McRanchs, a stiff north cold wind will be the best.  I assume they will have to get an FAA waiver and an insurance policy.  Otherwise they could take it apart in the open and haul it 6 miles to the Boeing hangers and glue it back together, a 1 year project for sure.  But with only 3 Dreamlifters available, another event and the 787 DreamLiner build schedule becomes a nightmare.  
How did it happen.  On a clear night with no other traffic the McConnell air traffic control would give an experienced pilot of a large slow aircraft clearance to land a few miles out, then set and watch, the crew in this case, coming from the north, saw the lights of the first airport, they are in alignment, and ended their employment with Boeing 6 miles out.   This looks like pilot error, their are a number mistakes here, navigational aids should have been reporting distance and vector.  Kudos for getting it stopped though, that was great.

UPDATE: As the temp fell near freezing, wind kicked up to 15 to 20 out of the north, they pumped most the fuel out of it and at mid day they took off easy as you please, circled around and landed at the other airport.  Seemed no effort at all.


  1. Had a Flying Tiger 747 freighter make an emergency landing at King Salmon Airport, Alaska - 8500 x500 ft runway. That one got sporty on departure....
    Landed at Anchorage on fumes...


  2. Go to Google and do James Jabara.


  3. Many years ago, I believe Delta Airlines twice accomplished the feat of landing at the wrong airport, both within a matter of days. That led to rumors that DELTA stood for: "don't ever leave the airport."


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