Watch: Huge military plane lands on tiny runway at wrong airport

Watch: Huge military plane lands on tiny runway at wrong

A massive military cargo plane had to make an extremely difficult landing on a tiny runway after coming into the wrong airport in Florida this weekend. Scroll down to see the video

The C-17 cargo plane was bound for the MacDill Air Force Base on the southern tip of Tampa, but accidentally landed at the tiny Peter O. Knight Airport in the middle of a residential area.

Shocked local crowds said they believed the plane would crash through the end of the small runway and end up in Tampa Bay.

Peter O. Knight airport is around four miles north of MacDill, and a lot smaller, with the runway being 3,500ft long compared with MacDill's 11,500ft tarmac.

Another pilot who witnessed the landing, Don Sipila, told "Two words: one starts with O and one starts with S.

"It was extremely loud, the wings were wavering a little bit because he was doing a curving type of thing. You could clearly see this was a maximum effort short field landing. You don't practice these things.

"We all thought he was going to go off the end. Clearly this was the wrong airport for this aircraft."

Silipa explained he believed the enormous cargo plane got clearance to land at MacDill, saying: "MacDill is about five miles right off the end of this runway and it has the same number: 22 lined up in the same direction. But it's 11,500 feet long ... as a pilot I could see it's a long runway. This is only 3,500 feet!"

After several hours of burning off fuel to lighten its load, the C-17 returned to the sky the cheers of hundreds of residents who had gathered to watch its take-off.

The Air Force has not released details on what caused the mix-up, and airport officials revealed there was no damage to the tiny runway.

See the footage here:

See some of the scariest airports for take-offs and landings below:

World's scariest airports
See Gallery
Watch: Huge military plane lands on tiny runway at wrong airport

Planes can only land here when the tide is out. Washed by the sea twice a day, Traigh Mhor runway is reputed to be the only beach runway in the world to handle scheduled airline services.

This Alpine airport is home to an extremely short uphill runway (1,722 feet) - and there's a vertical drop at the end. Oh, and then there's the wind, sleet and snow - all of which play havoc with all things airbourne.

A gateway airport to many smaller Caribbean islands including St Barts and Anguilla, planes landing at St Maarten Airport provide a great photo opportunity from Maho beach.

Skimming over the beach towards the 2,300m runway, this stretch of coastline sees a lot of daily traffic with the airport servicing around about 100,000 flights a year.

Located around five miles from the centre of Sao Paulo, Congonhas is one of the busiest airports in Brazil. The proximity to the city centre means it may feel like you're skimming the tops of skyscrapers as you land and take off.

Landing at Toncontin Airport is particularly challenging for pilots due to its proximity to the mountains. In 2008 after a tragic plane crash, the airport was closed to international traffic. A major review of airport safety took place and in May 2009 a runway extension was completed. But despite this, it still has one of the shortest international runways in the world.

An approach to this airport means traversing mountainous terrain and this sometimes involves flying over occasionally active volcanoes. A recent eruption from the Pacaya volcano in 2010 caused the airport to close. Planes run the risk of ending up covered in ash, as this image of a just-landed American Airlines jet shows...

Located in the Maiquetia region of Caracas, this international airport handles flights to many important cities in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. Its proximity to buildings and mountains make it a technically very difficult landing strip.

Used mainly by the US Antarctica Program during the summer, this sea-ice runway has to be constructed every year as it melts around December time. Pilots who've landed on the ice say it's much like landing on concrete initially, but when the plane comes to a standstill its wheels sink a into the ice. Don't miss our feature: Revealed! The world's worst airlines!

Pilots had to be extremely skilled to negotiate numerous skyscrapers and mountains before landing on a runway jutting out into Victoria Harbour.

Between 1925 and 1998 Kai Tak served as the main airport in Hong Kong. It has now been replaced by a new airport at Chek Lap Kok.

One of Gibraltar's busiest roads, Winston Churchill Avenue, crosses directly over the runway for North Front airport. This means that the road can be closed for around two hours a day - mainly servicing planes to and from the UK. A tunnel under the runway is due to be completed in 2012.


Sign up to our weekly newsletter
| Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook
Read Full Story