Old 26th Jan 2013, 16:00
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 258
...When you're tired you tend to see what you expect to see, I suppose...
... KTPF is to the NE of McDill, which one suspects would make it the first runway to make visual contact with when arriving from Rome...
...runways are only a couple of miles apart, almost aligned, same final....
There are reports in the Tampa press that the crew were aware of the proximity of Peter O Knight (KTPF) to MacDill (KMCF), and were trying to identify it in order to avoid the obvious trap.

However, there is yet another airfield, Tampa Executive (KVDF) some 8 miles to the NE of KTPF, which also has a short (4,200') runway aligned 05/23.

That makes it three airfields within 13 miles, all roughly in a straight line aligned NE/SW, all with runways aligned NE/SW, the first two of which (when approaching from the NE as this crew were) have short runways.

The reports go on to state - it is not clear on what basis or where they obtained their information - that the first airfield the crew saw was Tampa Executive which unfortunately they mis-identified as Peter O Knight, and therefore "knew" that the next airfield on track "must be" MacDill.

Whether this was the case or not I don't know, but looking at a map it does seem plausible and might offer a partial explanation as to how this incident came about.

It would be easy to laugh at a crew landing a C-17 on a 3,500' runway instead of the 11,421' runway they were expecting, but I suspect many of us, over the years, under the sort of pressure which this crew was under, may have come a bit closer to something similar than we would care to admit - even if it wasn't continued to a landing - and might have just a little sympathy for them. There but for the grace of God and all that!

Best Regards

Bellerophon is offline