Whiskey Tango Foxtrot requests clearance to taxi to pad charlie and cry.
November 21, 2013 3:47 AM   Subscribe

Boeing's largest, and ugliest, aircraft today is the 747 LCF, better known as the DreamLifter. The primary job of the DreamLifter is delivering entire 787 fuselages for final assembly. Yesterday evening, one DreamLifter was supposed to land at Wichita, Kansas...

...but instead of landing at KICT, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, it landed at KAAO, Wichita Jabara. Jabara has one runway, 6101 feet long. So, while it is long enough for the DreamLifter to land, it is nowhere near long enough for the DreamLifter to takeoff.
posted by eriko (172 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
wow. what exactly will this tug do? just tow it over to the larger airfield?
posted by sio42 at 3:56 AM on November 21, 2013


>Several people tell KAKE News the Dreamlifter is too large for the Jabara's 6,100-foot runway.

This page lists the amount of runway required for the LCF (Large Cargo Freighter) to take off as ... (drum roll please) ...

10,039 ft.

I imagine that's fully laden, though, so it should be able to take off in a lot less space when empty.

Maybe they could just strap a bunch of JATOs to it ...
posted by kcds at 3:58 AM on November 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Airliners.net thread for this has a lot of analysis as well.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:11 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something similar happened to an Air Force C-17 a while back. Landing and takeoff videos.
posted by Skorgu at 4:11 AM on November 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


...it may have landed at the airport by mistake

Now how is that possible? I expect that with a cab driver, but if you fly 747s for a living you don't land at the wrong address. Don't these people have flight plans on file? Aren't they in communication with the ground? Isn't there a ton of procedural back-up in making sure that airplanes land and take-off on the correct runways? WTF? This would be a lot less funny if some poor slob and a bunch of passengers was taking off on that same runway when that geisterfahrer landed.

I hope that this costs Boeing and the airport a ton of money so that they try harder next time.
posted by three blind mice at 4:20 AM on November 21, 2013


The pilot should have used an iPhone! It comes with a GPS and a map program so you can't get lost!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 AM on November 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


> Something similar happened to an Air Force C-17 a while back. Landing and takeoff videos.

Damn, the strip's just a field and a fence away from a suburban street. That must have rattled the china cabinets.
posted by ardgedee at 4:30 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of one of the stories from Outlaws Inc. (this is a second hand story related to myself so may not be as described in the book and may also be entirely fictional)

There is a place in Afghanistan that needs resupply but nobody wants to take the job as it's considered too short a runway and too dangerous a takeoff. Ridiculous sums of money are being offered and in the end a bunch of Russian guys offered to deliver the cargo.

They take the ridiculous sum of money and successfully land a barely airworthy aircraft and deliver the cargo. The guys who meet them look concerned at how the Russians are going to fly out but none of them seem bothered. They just kick back and relax.

Then the trucks they hired turn up and they climb aboard and drive out abandoning the airframe behind them. Gigantic brass ones and frankly hilarious.
posted by longbaugh at 4:38 AM on November 21, 2013 [34 favorites]


Wichita has two airports?? I'd be confused too, but that's why I don't fly planes.

Also, that is one gigantic plane. It makes me think of stuff like this.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:46 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the pilot got confused by the rugged, varied terrain of Wichita, Kansas.
posted by indubitable at 4:49 AM on November 21, 2013 [46 favorites]


Reminds me of the Viz Top Tip:

Catch a Condor by simply building a wooden stockade 1 metre high and 50 metres in diametre, and placing a dead goat in the centre. The bird will land inside the stockade to feed on the goat but will then be unable to get out. This is because Condors require a run-up of at least 100 metres before they can gain the momentum necessary for take off.
posted by mukade at 4:53 AM on November 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


In general, when this happens, you strip everything you can out of the aircraft, load up with just enough fuel to get to somewhere more appropriate, get as far down one end of the runway as you can, turn around, stick the brakes on, wind up the donks to full chat, wait for a bit, then go for it.

Not sure whether that'll work in this case. I imagine some really interesting conversations over spreadsheets are going on, right now.
posted by Devonian at 4:54 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually, there are three airports just on the east side of Wichita, with all of the runways pointing in roughly the same direction. And a fourth over on the west side.

Wichita is - or at least used to be - a major aviation hub.
posted by Hatashran at 4:56 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


For comparison heres the Mid-Continent and Jabara airports on Google maps
posted by Lanark at 4:57 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Airliners.net discussion:

Press conference from Jabara airport just reported that the Dreamlifter is scheduled to depart at noon today on Runway 36.

They are not off loading fuel and not off loading cargo for the takeoff. Evidentially it can take off from the 6,100 ft runway without reducing the weight.

posted by Devonian at 4:59 AM on November 21, 2013


The pilot should have used an iPhone! It comes with a GPS and a map program so you can't get lost!

They must have been using Apple Maps instead of Google.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:09 AM on November 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "The pilot should have used an iPhone! It comes with a GPS and a map program so you can't get lost!"

Don't joke. Just yesterday I sold a private pilot the RAM mount he needed to hold his iPad to the yoke of his plane. He uses it for navigation.
posted by workerant at 5:12 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the Wichita 'liner... is still on the ground...
posted by pracowity at 5:22 AM on November 21, 2013 [31 favorites]


Now how is that possible?

Here's the area on a map. Notice how all the airports are really close to each other, and all the runways are lined up more or less in the same direction. It was also night, so you can't really see the ground. You know you're near the airport, you see the flashing white and green airport beacon and a runway that's pointed in the right direction, and then you're at the wrong airport. It happens sometimes.

Wichita is - or at least used to be - a major aviation hub.

Wichita still holds the title of General Aviation Capital of the World. At its peak it had the headquarters of Cessna, Beech, Lear, and a number of other smaller players. Lots of flat land means you can build lots of manufacturing areas next to runways.

Don't joke. Just yesterday I sold a private pilot the RAM mount he needed to hold his iPad to the yoke of his plane. He uses it for navigation.

I use an iPad for aviation navigation. There are some restrictions (it's only to be used for "supplementary" information, for example) but I have it tied to a bluetooth GPS and I've completely eliminated the need to lug around paper charts. Pretty nifty!
posted by backseatpilot at 5:27 AM on November 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wichita has two airports??

More than that - I see the big commercial airport and Jabara, as well as factory airports for Cessna and Beech, the pretty good sized Air Force base, and at least a dozen smaller landing fields. Seems like a lot of airports for a moderate-sized city.
posted by aught at 5:28 AM on November 21, 2013


> Then the trucks they hired turn up and they climb aboard and drive out abandoning the
> airframe behind them. Gigantic brass ones and frankly hilarious.

Some years back in the Nantahala National Forest (NC) forest rangers found a freshly bulldozed dirt landing strip about the size of a long postage stamp cut into a mountainside, and a beat-up old C-47 at the end of it. Abandoned. The engines would start and it could still fly, if you could just get it airborne, but the strip wasn't long enough for a takeoff. They had to cut it up and remove it on flatbed trucks.

dum dum dum, Flyin' into Losangeleeees... bringin' in a couple'a keeeys...


> They are not off loading fuel and not off loading cargo for the takeoff. Evidentially it can
> take off from the 6,100 ft runway without reducing the weight.

Dammit Joe, the manual says it can! Look, page 254, right there at the bottom.
posted by jfuller at 5:38 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


wikipedia:
The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft (1,064 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate from unpaved, unimproved runways (although with greater chance of damage to the aircraft).[46] The thrust reversers can be used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways using a three- (or more) point turn.
Wikipedia puts Tampa Executive Airport's runway 5/23 at 5,000ft long, so it was no problem. Other than the need for new pants on the part of the crew and the airport staff.

McDill AFB's runway 4/22 is 11,421ft.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:40 AM on November 21, 2013


> They are not off loading fuel and not off loading cargo for the takeoff.

I bet they're not taking on any more fuel than they need to get to a convenient big-enough airport, though.
posted by ardgedee at 5:47 AM on November 21, 2013


Pilots do mistakenly land at the wrong airport regularly - here's a list.

There is a great story where a Mexican pilot emergency landed a Gulfstream on a racecourse in Ireland and spent months living in Mallow town while the insurance company built him a runway to take off again. Captain Ocaña was very popular in the town and idle gossip would have it that there are still locals there who are his children, though I'm 99% sure that's just made up to combat the boredom of living in Mallow.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:53 AM on November 21, 2013 [21 favorites]


The pilot should have used an iPhone! It comes with a GPS and a map program so you can't get lost!

Siri where am I and why is everyone here speaking French
posted by Shepherd at 5:58 AM on November 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wikipedia puts Tampa Executive Airport's runway 5/23 at 5,000ft long, so it was no problem.

The C-17 landed at Peter O. Knight airport not Tampa Executive. Wikipedia lists their longest runway at 3,580 feet so it was just barely long enough.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:01 AM on November 21, 2013


My eyes fuzzily saw this as being written about Boeing's ugly new DreamLitter fleet.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:01 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


On my first commercial flight ever, they overbooked and overloaded; they paid passengers to switch flights, unloaded fuel and food service to reduce enough weight to take off and get to a bigger strip.

I never used that airport again.
posted by Foosnark at 6:11 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article says the plane was headed to McConnell AFB, which is only a few miles away from Jabara, and the runways almost line up. The private Beech airport lies almost in between the two, though it looks like it's unlit at night.
posted by cardboard at 6:13 AM on November 21, 2013


We had something similar out here a few years ago. A 747 was heading for Evergreen Air Center for maintenance... and the pilot landed it at Avra Valley Airport instead. Avra Valley is a small place made for Cessnas, not jumbo jets. They had to bulldoze a bunch of extra runway to get the plane out of there.
posted by azpenguin at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2013


Wichita is - or at least used to be - a major aviation hub.

Damn you transcontinental flight capabilities!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:20 AM on November 21, 2013


This is basically my favorite sort of news event, weird problems with big planes.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:25 AM on November 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


How long does it take for new cement to cure?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:28 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many plane spotters this little incident has created?
"Mom, mom, can we go see the giant plane?"
"I'm busy. Ask your father."
posted by pracowity at 6:31 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, there are three airports just on the east side of Wichita, with all of the runways pointing in roughly the same direction. And a fourth over on the west side.

Could they sort of skip from one to the next until they've gone far enough to take off for good?

I am just kidding; my cousin was a C-130 pilot. I GET IT.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:37 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pilots do mistakenly land at the wrong airport regularly - here's a list.

I was just coming to post that link; one of the incidents list was in my hometown in 1986. Here is a contemporaneous account; local lore states that the plane was stripped down and a minimal amount of fuel was used much as people mention above but apparently that was not the case. Apparently they did bring in a special crew, though. That article also mentions that the control tower of the intended airport shuts down at 11 PM in good weather so that late night flights land under VFR. I wonder why that is?
posted by TedW at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2013


I don't see what the problem is. All they need is a large treadmill.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 6:40 AM on November 21, 2013 [63 favorites]


I think there was an incident a few years ago where a DC-10 (with passengers) was forced to make an emergency landing at DCA. From what I remember, the FAA forced the airline to remove most of the cargo and fuel from the plane, and fly a very short segment to IAD, which has a much longer runway. The passengers had to take a bus. Must have been pretty spectacular, given that DCA's approach/takeoff pattern is rather difficult to begin with.

That being said, if there are two airports that have directly-aligned runways, I can totally see how this happened. It's a really easy navigation error to make, even if you've got electronic charts. (It shouldn't happen, but it's easy to see how it did. Navigating from the air is hard.)
posted by schmod at 6:40 AM on November 21, 2013


Taking off might be a matter of forgoing balanced field requirements, in place so that the plane has enough runway to either safely stop or continue takeoff in the event of engine failure. For safety, jet transports will almost always want more runway than they normally need if all the engines keep working, but maybe an exception can be made in this case.
posted by exogenous at 6:41 AM on November 21, 2013


I like to imagine that the flight navigation systems on these planes would be tracking the flight path itself, and be complaining loudly if the plane was not on the correct glide slope for the airport punched in as the target. All the runways may be aligned in the same direction, but if I am 6 miles out descending at heading xxx at GPS position x, y, and z, that seems to be enough information for a navigation system to start pointing out that I am 5 miles North of the correct path to get where I said I wanted to go.....

Is this wrong? Or did they just input the wrong destination in the system initially?
posted by dglynn at 6:59 AM on November 21, 2013


I just looked and Wichita Jabara is out in the country. There's room there to lengthen the air strip quite a lot. That would take months, but it still might be the best answer.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2013


It will take off with no problem on a conveyor belt.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


LiveATC has a recording, but you have to sign up to access it. Brief transcript

Giant 4241: Good Evening McConnell Tower Giant 4241 heavy is on the GPS RNAV approach for 19L.
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy runway 19L winds 140 at 4. Cleared to land
Giant 4241: Cleared to land, runway 19L Giant 4241 heavy.
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy check wheels down
[repeat]
Giant 4241: Giant 4241 heavy, we'll get back to you momentarily, we're not on your approach
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 McConnell is about 9 miles south east
Giant 4241: Uh, yes sir, we just landed at the other airport
Giant 4241: and McConnell, Giant 4241
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241, McConnell Tower
Giant 4241: Uh, apparently, we've landed at B-E-C
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 verify you are on the ground at Beech airport?
Giant 4241: We think so
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 verify you are full stop, landed at BEC airport?
Giant 4241: Affirmative
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 McConnell tower are you able to make an approved departure off that airport?
Giant 4241: We're working on those details now sir
McConnell Tower: roger
Giant 4241: McConnell Tower, Giant 4241
Giant 4241: Yes sir do you have a tower frequency here for Beech?
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 Beech tower is actually closed at this time
Giant 4241: Ok is there a unicom frequency?
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 standby
Giant 4241: One more thing, do you have the coordinates for this airport?
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy standby
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 I have the coordinates [...]
[coordinate readback, etc ...]
Giant 4241: We've got some gentlemen that are outside the aircraft now

[...]

McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy from the target we saw on the radar, you were overtop Jabara airport, which is approximately 8 miles north of McConnell airport, unicom frequency is 122.7.
Giant 4241: We're in contact with company right now, trying to analyze the performance data
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy and confirm you know which airport you're at?
Giant 4241: Well we think we have a pretty good idea. Let me ask you this, how many airports directly to the south of 19 are there?
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 you're currently north of McConnell and there's three along the approach.

[...]

Giant 4241: We just had a twin engine aircraft, turboprop aircraft, go over the top of us
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy roger you, appears you're at Jabara
Giant 4241: Uh, say again?
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy we saw the plane on the radar and it appears you are at Jabara airport
Giant 4241: Say the name of it again?
McConnell Tower: Jabara
Giant 4241: Jabaro
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy that's J-A-B-A-R-R-A
Giant 4241: Ok, alright, copy that, ok, and we also show that we're just short of [?] now.
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy right that's Jabara.
McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 say intentions
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2013 [46 favorites]


Giant 4241: My intention is to pretend this never happened.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2013 [63 favorites]


Looks like they're going to go ahead and give takeoff a whirl.
posted by maus at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2013


> LiveATC has a recording...

If ever an ATC transcript needed Yakety Sax, it's this one.
posted by ardgedee at 7:21 AM on November 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


McConnell Tower: Giant 4241 heavy and confirm you know which airport you're at?

I am laughing so hard at this.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:23 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


All the runways may be aligned in the same direction, but if I am 6 miles out descending at heading xxx at GPS position x, y, and z, that seems to be enough information for a navigation system to start pointing out that I am 5 miles North of the correct path to get where I said I wanted to go.....

If your eyes tell you the runway is over there, and your nav system says it is over there, most pilots are going to trust their eyes. Works most of the time!
posted by smackfu at 7:24 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


How come they fly 787 fuselages from one factory to another in a giant 747, rather than putting the fuselage factory near the assembly building?
posted by moonmilk at 7:26 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


What happens to a DreamLifter deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


How come they fly 787 fuselages from one factory to another in a giant 747, rather than putting the fuselage factory near the assembly building?

Boeing decided for the 787 to shop everything out to subcontractors because, hey, globalization and stuff. (Yes, I'm using that new internet proposition thing. People told me it's cool).

Parts of the fuselage are being built in Japan and Italy and flown to Seattle for final assembly. The 747LCF was probably in Kansas to pick up the forward fuselage section of a new 787.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:34 AM on November 21, 2013


Boeing decided for the 787 to shop everything out to subcontractors because, hey, globalization and stuff.

Also they presumably face a fair amount of political pressure to bring at least a little production parent countries of their customer base (who are themselves often parastatals).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:41 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right - JAL was the launch customer - Mitsubishi Heavy is a major Sub.

The theory on this one is that the plane had stabilizers coming from Alenia in Italy to Spirit Aerosystems (A big contract manufacturer that provides a labor cost arbitrage for BA and Airbus by buying facilities from them and beating up the unions for wage cuts)

Also historically building a new plane was very risky - they tried to derisk by spreading it out across multiple subs. Didn't work and in the case of Alenia made things even more difficult for the financially tenuous state of its parent company - which is an Italian government controlled entity.
posted by JPD at 7:46 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Boeing Dreamlifter is ... the primary means of transporting major assemblies of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from suppliers around the world to the 787 final assembly site in Everett, Wash. This reduces delivery times to as little as one day from as many as 30 days today.
This sounds like an astonishingly lavish way to get the job done. How many millions of dollars in aircraft customization, jet fuel, maintenance, and air crew pay does this cost?

I would have thought that today, in the information age, 30-day delivery times would have been nullified with super-sophisticated scheduling, networking, communications etc. I'm not in the manufacturing field, but what we hoi-polloi hear over and over again is that just-in-time everything is the way other manufacturers are becoming more efficient. And "just-in-time-everything" almost never means "delivering raw materials by rocket sled."
posted by Western Infidels at 7:47 AM on November 21, 2013


Also they presumably face a fair amount of political pressure to bring at least a little production parent countries of their customer base (who are themselves often parastatals)

Good point. Boeing just made headlines 48 hours ago by booking USD $100 billion in orders for the 777X at the Dubai air show, a good chunk of the Middle Eastern business came from promising that Boeing would subcontract some of the 777X work to Dubai-based companies.

Also didn't hurt that the machinists in Seattle rejected the 777X work. It might all go overseas.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2013


~Wichita is - or at least used to be - a major aviation hub.

~Wichita still holds the title of General Aviation Capital of the World. At its peak it had the headquarters of Cessna, Beech, Lear, and a number of other smaller players. Lots of flat land means you can build lots of manufacturing areas next to runways.


You should have included Boeing itself in that list. Sadly, no longer.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be cool to see a link to inevitable live coverage of the take-off 'attempt' as it was called in the link above. I live just a few blocks from the Boeing plant and i often have dreamlifters scream right over me on my commute to and from my office. they are enormous and ungainly and a thrill to see up close.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2013


This sounds like an astonishingly lavish way to get the job done.

It's very similar to why NASA decided to move the Space Shuttles around by airplane. These airplane sections are way oversized to travel reliably by truck, and boats experience significant loads and deflections in high seas that can damage long segments like wings. Compared to closing down highways across the entire US to get parts from South Carolina to Seattle, the cost of a custom-built airplane starts to make sense.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2013


This sounds like an astonishingly lavish way to get the job done. How many millions of dollars in aircraft customization, jet fuel, maintenance, and air crew pay does this cost?

You know Airbus does this too.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2013


If your prospective customer says, "You know, I would really feel better about signing this multibillion dollar contract if $Airplane_Part came from $Local_Factory," you are probably going to make arrangements with $Local_Factory.

This does not make Boeing sell airplanes at a loss. It makes Boeing's airplanes cost more.
posted by ardgedee at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Boeing's largest, and ugliest, aircraft today is the 747 LCF

Boeing's, maybe. Here's Aero Spacelines' the Guppy | [Pics]


Later. . .

You know Airbus does this too.

Ah. Quite so.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:58 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also didn't hurt that the machinists in Seattle rejected the 777X work. It might all go overseas.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:54 AM on November 21 [+] [!]


There's a lot more to it than this, and most of it strikes as brinksmanship, at least by the union. They certainly didn't reject the 777x work, they rejected an extension of their contract, one that would have guaranteed the work but would have cost them most of what they had gained in the last labor negotiation.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:01 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fuel, maintenance, and crews is basically negligible cost compared to being able to leverage multiple potential suppliers against each other.

This is similar to what happened to Detroit in the 1950's, where auto manufacturers realized they could get better labor deals outside of Detroit than in Detroit. This was bad for the unions, but there's no real reason why building an automobile needs to be done entirely in Detroit, nor taken from raw ore to finished product by the same company. Nor is there any real reason an entire airplane needs to be built at Everett or Paine field, except for the logistics of doing it elsewhere.

Also note that 737 fuselages travel by train. The 787 is too wide for this, and the distances they wanted to travel are much greater, which requires the new airplane (and also the number of 787 frames to be built is far less than 737 frames, so it's more ok to ship each one individually).
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:03 AM on November 21, 2013


Here's Aero Spacelines' the Guppy | [Pics]

Awww, I want to hug it!
posted by lalex at 8:13 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mistakenly landing at the wrong airport seems wildly dangerous. The opportunity for a ground crash (e.g. running into someone turning onto the runway, etc) seems very high, relatively speaking. Just my uneducated observation.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:13 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is this a firing offence for the crew, or would this be something that the company would understand? Asking since it doesn't seem to be as rare as one would think.
posted by arcticseal at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2013


This Is Just To Say

I have landed
your airplane
by mistake
at Jabarra

even though
you were probably
expecting
to fly it again

Forgive me
the runway was magnificent
so nearby
and so short
posted by onlyconnect at 8:24 AM on November 21, 2013 [43 favorites]


Here's a map of Wichita airports; at least 11 public airports, and that doesn't count the private fields. (The purple and blue circles are airports; so are the blue lines for the biggest airports, McConnell and Wichita Mid-Continental.) Here's straight-down views of Jabarra and McConnell (same scale). This view is misleading, it makes it look too obvious which airport is which. Pilots see things at a much more oblique angle and it's not always easy to make out an airport from 15 miles away at 4000'.

I've landed at Jabara myself in a little tiny plane where that 6000' runway felt incredibly generous. I could see making an honest mistake and confusing Jabara for, say, Beech. McConnell is significantly bigger. The charts show McConnell having two parallel runways but it sure doesn't look like that from that aerial view linked above.

The laughable thing is any form of instrument navigation would have helped the pilot realize his error. Including yes, an iPhone. I'm particularly concerned that the pilot radioed "is on the GPS RNAV approach for 19L". If he's really on that approach, then he damn well should have a GPS telling him his position to within 25 feet. The weather reports for last time at the time of the landing seem completely clear, so maybe the pilot wasn't really using the GPS. Bet he wishes he was now.

The fact that they're not bothering to unload the cargo makes me think they aren't too worried about making the takeoff. We'll find out in a couple of hours!

(PS: this post is mis-stated; according to the reports I've read he was never inbound for KICT.)
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is very dangerous to land in the wrong place - especially, as appears to be the case here, the runway on which you're about to plonk self+tin is part on an airport with no ATC home. What if the runway wasn't safe, because someone was parked half-way down, or there were workers out there?

So it's a very serious boo-boo. It's certainly the sort of thing which can get pilots sacked, and the ATC transcript doesn't really seem to leave much room for anything other than pilot error - but there could be.

Freight flying is a bit different to passenger work. Lots of it happens at night, there's no cabin crew to interact with, and freight dogs tend to be a bit of a breed apart. This hasn't been the first major freighter incident during a night landing this year in the US.
posted by Devonian at 8:35 AM on November 21, 2013


Also note that 737 fuselages travel by train.

The 737 is diddy! I mean, I know it's on a train track, but I hadn't realised that it's basically a train carriage with wings on it...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 8:35 AM on November 21, 2013


Mistakenly landing at the wrong airport seems wildly dangerous. The opportunity for a ground crash (e.g. running into someone turning onto the runway, etc) seems very high, relatively speaking. Just my uneducated observation.

It requires at least four oversights to happen. Pilot has to not notice. Copilot has to not notice. Control Tower A has to not notice the plane they are talking to isn't actually coming in to land. Control Tower B has to not notice there is plane landing that they aren't talking to.

So, it doesn't happen that often.
posted by smackfu at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2013


Don't joke. Just yesterday I sold a private pilot the RAM mount he needed to hold his iPad to the yoke of his plane. He uses it for navigation.

One of my friends is a yacht captain for hire. He admits he does not know how to perform a sextant read and relies on GPS.

That knowledge got me to completely lose my drooling fondness for sailing.
posted by ocschwar at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a no-login-required recording of the ATC conversation here.
posted by Devonian at 8:42 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a go.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2013


lordrunningclam: "The C-17 landed at Peter O. Knight airport not Tampa Executive. Wikipedia lists their longest runway at 3,580 feet so it was just barely long enough"

Apparently I fail at reading. That does change things.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:14 AM on November 21, 2013


Live stream here.
posted by TedW at 9:16 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re smackfu, just three errors here: the Jabara field doesn't appear to have a tower.
posted by introp at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I don't get is why you transport the fuselage. I'd have thought that you fly everything else to it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:20 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most complicated bit is actually the wing. Which is also not a small piece.
posted by defcom1 at 9:29 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the fuselage a single composite part? How many autoclaves that size could there possibly be?
posted by qbject at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2013


The composite fuselage is a series of barrels joined together. One of the options for repairing the Ethiopian 787 stuck at Heathrow this summer following a fire in an emergency beacon was to detach the entire aft section and refit a new one - but it looks as if it's being patched instead.
posted by Devonian at 9:36 AM on November 21, 2013


thanks TedW !
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:37 AM on November 21, 2013


What I don't get is why you transport the fuselage. I'd have thought that you fly everything else to it.

OTOH, the fuselage is a nearly ideal piece of large cargo to be carried in a plane, in both overall shape and weight.
posted by smackfu at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2013


Here's the tower audio recording.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2013


is the stream showing as offline for everyone?
posted by nadawi at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


KWCH is offline, but KAKE is, er, cooking.
posted by Devonian at 10:01 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


is the stream showing as offline for everyone?

Just a second, I'll ask 'em.

brb . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 10:03 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, on the Beluga, the cockpit is very low down and the front of the dome opens up so they can get things in and out. Doing that apparently means they don't have to disconnect any electronics by doing anything like hinging the front.

On that dreamlifter, the cockpit is in a normal location, and the roof is 'just' a bit higher. How do they get things out? Presumably they don't hinge the front, and I'm guessing my hopes it has a hinged lid like a giant lunchbox (or the space shuttle) are going to be dashed.

So... how...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:10 AM on November 21, 2013


KAKE is starting to show strain.
posted by wotsac at 10:10 AM on November 21, 2013


Is it crumbling?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:11 AM on November 21, 2013


OTOH, the fuselage is a nearly ideal piece of large cargo to be carried in a plane, in both overall shape and weight.

Like a Russian Nesting Doll! Inside that fuselage is another, tinier fuselage!
posted by janey47 at 10:13 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Presumably they don't hinge the front

Correct! The whole tail hinges out. Like so.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:15 AM on November 21, 2013


That thing looks like some kind of huge spaceship sitting out there.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:19 AM on November 21, 2013



. . . Ok, I'm back.

So this one guy in Godthaab didn't answer the door, and an old lady outside of Neodesha, Kansas took a shot at me before I could ask. Other than that, it looks like, yeah, everyone.

And now that I'm back at my desk, the KWCH feed is ba- and it's off again. And it's back on.

And KAKE hasn been black the whole time for me.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:21 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The whole tail hinges out.

Well that's somehow disappointing and horrifying at the same time...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:23 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bet that's the one catch everyone double checks the indicator light for.
posted by arcticseal at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


That thing looks like some kind of huge spaceship sitting out there.

747s still impress me. Seeing one fly overhead at low altitude is boggling.

If you're in Germany and have the time, there's a decomissioned Lufthansa B747 sitting at the Technik Museum Speyer outside of Stuttgart. The insides are cut away so you can climb down into the cargo bay or the rear of the fuselage. You can stand on the wing!

You don't realize how massive this aircraft is since you're almost never standing next to the outside of one at close range.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there audio on the KAKE livestream? I can't hear anything, just checking because my work audio setup is kind of flakey. And I want to hear screaming engines, ideally.
posted by Joh at 10:28 AM on November 21, 2013


and an old lady outside of Neodesha, Kansas

I'm more concerned about Maquoketa, Iowa. Did you check there?
posted by OHSnap at 10:30 AM on November 21, 2013


When you've got a huge static target like that, how are the cameramen managing to get it so out of shot so often?

Also, wouldn't the more exciting place to put a camera be the other end of that runway...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:31 AM on November 21, 2013


No audio on KAKE at the moment - there was an open mic for a bit, but I think they switched it off.
posted by Devonian at 10:31 AM on November 21, 2013


CNN has a livestream as well although hopefully unlike this plane I can't seem to get it off the ground.
posted by fancypants at 10:31 AM on November 21, 2013


I'm more concerned about Maquoketa, Iowa. Did you check there?

Well since there's only one, I did cheat a bit there. But I did speak to this one couple, the Goods. They offered me a sliice of mushroom pizza and assured me the KWCH online feed was out for the entire town at that time.

= = =

Either the camera or the 'Lifter has moved.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:40 AM on November 21, 2013


Is there an ETA for the return flight, or should we just sit here watching nothing happen for a bit more?
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:41 AM on November 21, 2013


Don't forget to click the play button Herodios.

The 747 is definitely impressive. We don't have quite so much access to ours, but the prototype 747 (City of Everett) is a couple of miles from me - last time I was there we could get in spitting, but not touching distance.
posted by wotsac at 10:44 AM on November 21, 2013


Its way past the noon estimate for takeoff, anyone have a better idea when they plan to try? I have work to do you know! :D
posted by Joh at 10:52 AM on November 21, 2013


Someone else tells me 1pm, which would be in just a few minutes, if I have my timezones right
posted by Joh at 10:55 AM on November 21, 2013


THe KAKE feed just added sound and I thought I heard the reporter type say 45 minutes
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2013


The KAKE livestream suddenly sprung into action. Looks like it could be soon.
posted by fancypants at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2013


Wait, there's a red truck in front of the thing.

I swear, if they latch that thing onto the hitch and it turns out this was a viral stunt for Toyota I'm gonna be... only slightly impressed.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listening to reporters now. Cringing at everything wrong that is coming out of their mouths.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


They fired up the engines
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2013


Here's some guy's phone on ustream.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:59 AM on November 21, 2013


backseatpilot, are you saying that steam does not exit from the back of a jet engine?
posted by vespabelle at 10:59 AM on November 21, 2013


"They've still got the auxillary power unit hooked up" - well, I should hope so too!
posted by Devonian at 11:00 AM on November 21, 2013


I have work to do you know! :D

Are you sure you didn't go to the wrong office by mistake this morning?
posted by zachlipton at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread was worth it for "wind up the donks to full chat".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


A couple of wrong things I must correct:

"How could they mistake an airport with two parallel runways with an airport with one runway?"

It was dark. If the airfield is only using one of the parallel runways, then they'll only illuminate that one in order to avoid confusion. One lit runway at a large airport looks pretty similar to one lit runway at a smaller airport with only the one strip.

"How come they didn't see the wrong runway number lit up by the runway lights?"

The runway numbers aren't normally lit. Edge lights, runway end indicator lights, and approach lights, but the numbers aren't lit until the airplane landing light is pointing at it. They probably didn't see it until it was too late.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2013


But... wasn't the airfield closed? Why was the runway illuminated?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:11 AM on November 21, 2013


@backseatpilot: Is it normal for two airports that are so close together to have different unicom frequencies? The scariest part about this incident (IMO) seems to be that the pilots were tuned to the wrong radio frequency the entire time. If you've got two airports that are very close together and difficult to distinguish between, it seems like it would be a good idea to have everybody talking on the same channel...

Also, is there a reason why the tower cleared the 747 to land without first checking to make sure that it was actually on the correct approach?
posted by schmod at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2013


What are the applicable salvage laws in regard to a Gulliver aircraft? Can the little field just keep the giant, and maybe part it out? Or rent it for parties?
posted by Cranberry at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


^Tower was closed. Airport was open.
posted by OHSnap at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2013


But... wasn't the airfield closed? Why was the runway illuminated?

Jabara is non-towered. The airport has no "closed" times per se, since there's no tower to keep open. The runway lights are activated by clicking the mic on the CTAF frequency, so if I had to guess I would say someone activated the lights shortly before they landed - probably another plane came in before them.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2013


Thar she blows!
posted by Devonian at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2013


And it's up...
posted by defcom1 at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2013


Phew!
posted by malocchio at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good lord, that looked like walking pace...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


yay!
posted by vespabelle at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anti-climatic, but awesome.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2013


If that's not enough, I think this is a feed to the AFB where the thing is due to land in a few minutes - where it's a bit blustery.
posted by Devonian at 11:21 AM on November 21, 2013


Anti-climatic, but awesome.

No doubt! I started watching the livefeed at about 12:45 central time, and I put off going to the restroom to wait for the damned thing to takeoff. I was starting to see yellow, but I'm glad I waited. Such a simple thing to see it get into the air, and uniquely wonderful at the same time.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2013


Also, is there a reason why the tower cleared the 747 to land without first checking to make sure that it was actually on the correct approach?

Well, there's the fun part. The GPS 19L approach to Mc Connell goes straight over Jabara - zoom in on the map here and you'll see the route. As a pilot, what I would do is break out of the clouds, look for the airport beacon, then find the runway with the lights on and aim for that. They probably got out of the clouds a few miles north of Jabara, saw Jabara's beacon and mistook it for Mc Connell, and then landed there instead. Darkness really screws with your sense of perspective.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now that everything appears to be mundane and nobody got hurt, is this where we can start cracking jokes?

Dibs on "shoulda taken a left toin at alba-koikie".
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2013


I actually almost did this exact thing on Monday, to be honest. I went for a night flight, punched in GPS-direct to a nearby airport to do some landings, and as we approached I saw the green-and-white beacon and pointed the plane towards it. The beacon looked like it was only a couple miles away, but the GPS said the airport should be right in front of us.

Turned out we were directly on top of the airport and the beacon I saw was about 25 miles away. It's easy to get turned around at night.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:41 AM on November 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


unicom frequency

Every single time in this thread, I read it as "unicorn frequency." Like, the extra special, incredibly rare radio channel that is so important and wonderful, you only get to try it when you really need help. Like when you're sitting on the ground and still can't figure out which airport you landed at. And maybe it makes glitter rain down in the cockpit, too.
posted by vytae at 11:51 AM on November 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


annnnnnnd now i've just realized it's not unicorn frequency. i was all like "well, that's sort of weird, but it's a super jargon heavy field, i'm sure there's a reason..."
posted by nadawi at 11:59 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Darn kerning.
posted by carter at 12:02 PM on November 21, 2013


Dam keming
posted by hanov3r at 12:15 PM on November 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


schmod: "Also, is there a reason why the tower cleared the 747 to land without first checking to make sure that it was actually on the correct approach?"

Probably because they weren't expecting anyone else to land first. When an airport is quiet, I've been cleared to land my plane from 20 miles out. The main job of air traffic control is to keep aircraft separated from one another; getting to the destination is mostly the job of the pilot.

On preview, unicorn frequency is obviously 121.5 MHz.
posted by exogenous at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Towed to the fence.

Two drive-through lanes, and a nook on the ground below the cockpit for the barristers. On the other end is where you pick up the McNuggets and Freedom Fries. The cargo bay has scabbed-in compartments to serve either as rooms for the workers, or maybe even a Love Hotel. Various chairs and tables under the wing, for outside dining in clement weather. Food servers dress as flight-attendants.

Also, additional room for two volleyball courts and a medium-sized swimming pool.

It'll make a million.
posted by mule98J at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2013


Metafilter: Wind up the donks to full chat.
posted by islander at 12:19 PM on November 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Two drive-through lanes, and a nook on the ground below the cockpit for the barristers...

Have you any idea how much that coffee is gonna cost when you buy it from a lawyer?
And don't even think about adding cream or sugar.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wichita can go back to sleep now.
posted by buzzman at 12:27 PM on November 21, 2013


Wichita can go back to sleep now.

"As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls."

 
posted by Herodios at 12:35 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Youtube in case you missed the live stream.
posted by chrchr at 2:05 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boeing's largest, and ugliest, aircraft today is the 747 LCF, better known as the DreamLifter. The primary job of the DreamLifter is delivering entire 787 fuselages for final assembly...

Happily, this is where the Boeing 727 VTOL really gets to shine. It is designed to extract "stuck" 747s from extremely short runways.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


This page lists the amount of runway required for the LCF (Large Cargo Freighter) to take off as ... (drum roll please) ...10,039 ft.

By my calculations, that's about a fourteenth of the length that that plane from Fast And Furious 6 requires to take off.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:14 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Giant 4241: We've got some gentlemen that are outside the aircraft now

I'm picturing that incredulous traffic cop that always appears when someone makes a wrong turn or tries to park somewhere wrong. "What the? Hey! You! Yeah, you! What is the matter with you? You can't park that thing here!!"
posted by gjc at 2:38 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't realize how massive this aircraft is since you're almost never standing next to the outside of one at close range.

Once upon a time, if you needed to FedEx something overnight from Chicago, you could drive to the cargo side of O'Hare airport and drop the package off there. Last call was 11pm, I think. Anyway, being on the cargo side, things weren't quite as public friendly and separated. So there really is nothing but a fence between you and the jets. This one time, I drove past a parked China Air 747 cargo jet at about 20 yards. Gigantic. And beat to shit. Dents and pock marks all over the place. It reminded me very much of the takeoff scene from Fifth Element.
posted by gjc at 2:45 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Youtube in case you missed the live stream.

Piece of cake. I was expecting to see the thing sitting on plywood, backed up to a fence with a bunch of guys pushing to get it moving as quickly as possible.

I do love hearing some screaming turbofans though.

The weirdest takeoff I ever saw was on 9/11 when Bush was leaving one of the military bases. TV isn't supposed to show Air Force One doing certain things, including taking off. But in the confusion of the day, they let it air. And as you might imagine, the pilots were in full "protect the president" mode. So imagine a 747 doing this. Or at least as close to that as the 747 airframe can get. I don't know what engines they have in the presidential fleet, but they performed some terrifying magic that day.
posted by gjc at 2:58 PM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


How come they fly 787 fuselages from one factory to another in a giant 747, rather than putting the fuselage factory near the assembly building?

TO PROVE THEY CAN FLY!
posted by Lanark at 3:08 PM on November 21, 2013


Also note that 737 fuselages travel by train.

A few years back I was watching a documentary on the development of the 777. They talked about shipping sections of the 737 by train. After receiving the pieces they had to repair bullet holes and remove arrows (!) before assembly. Shooting at passing cargo trains is apparently a thing.
posted by flyingfox at 4:09 PM on November 21, 2013


I just watched the take off video, agonisingly slow, I held my breath.
posted by arcticseal at 4:51 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recently began a p/t job that both forces me to identify commercial aircraft as well as be next to and on top of them on the tarmac.

some cool aircraft type shit has happened so far

- we got held for a full 2 hour ground halt because a certain elected official was leaving town. there were multiple support aircraft in holding pattern before and during this 757s departure. some of our crew were waiting to head over to the terminal for lunch and began rolling on the tarmac. one of the helos rotated towards us in a slightly menacing way while airport ops sped over and told them maybe to stop moving

- one morning coming into the shop, I caught the unmistakable profile of a 747 sitting at a cargo hangar. it was loading up for a relief trip to Manila. we took a roll around it to check it out. we service 767s.. but the 747 is just a massive craft. we don't see them often because we aren't a major international stop

- a certain race team owner has a 727 at our airport. the 727 is no longer widely used. partly because they are almost fighter-jet loud. got to watch it depart one morning. it is massively loud in a really cool way

it seems so pedestrian, but gawking at aircraft is great
posted by ninjew at 5:55 PM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


- a certain race team owner has a 727 at our airport. the 727 is no longer widely used. partly because they are almost fighter-jet loud. got to watch it depart one morning. it is massively loud in a really cool way

I like watching the old TV shows where the old jets take off spewing a trail of futuristic black soot.

Also, the best looking of the tri-jets. There is one at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry decked out in classic United Airlines livery that hangs from the ceiling, and which you can walk on and gawk at.

it seems so pedestrian, but gawking at aircraft is great

I love it too. Just so much fun.
posted by gjc at 6:11 PM on November 21, 2013


i worked at MSI. yep, they had to cut a hole in the side of the building to get that thing in there. it was a big deal, until they built an entire underground hangar and lowered the U505 into it.

i mean you think most jets are loud, which they are. but when that 727 throttled up, it sent these loud claps of noise at our truck. followed by that black soot.

i intend to plan a trip so that i get a ride on a 787. it's a revolutionary aircraft and i think it's technologies and assembly process are the way of the future for air travel. Boeing bet on lightweight manufacturing, using massive amount of carbon fiber, efficient engines, innovative exterior and interior design features, a massive battery APU (instead of having to burn a lot of JetA to run power on the ground).

Airbus went the opposite direction and built the a380. just look at that thing. 747 for size comparison. they figured the path to efficiency was maxing the passenger/fuel ratio with the ability to put over 800 people (depending on configuration) on a single flight.

boeing and Virgin Atlantic held a press conference at MSI back in 2007 to roll out the 787. i was actually there and got hang out and watch all of that. plus they had that cool 787 cabin mockup in the museum for a while
posted by ninjew at 7:07 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see what the problem is. All they need is a large treadmill.

Knowing Boeing, they would build one, too. sorry, pops
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:49 PM on November 21, 2013


a trail of futuristic black soot
posted by tss at 8:05 PM on November 21, 2013


>It will take off with no problem on a conveyor belt.

Ha. Nice try. Even though I know the answer to this, my brain still whirred because it wanted to believe.

A strong headwind is basically the same idea writ three dimensional, just as an endless pool is a treadmill for swimming.
posted by Skwirl at 8:15 PM on November 21, 2013


If you could see what I have seen with my eyes...

1. Vulcan bomber at two airshows. Loud? Yes sir, loud.
2. SR-71 at Mildenhall, just after it went public. Talked to the pilot, who was standing just behind the tape, looking very "I'm a Sled Driver. Yeah. It is that cool." He said he'd be back in California in four hours. He was.
3. Harriers showing off. They go up-tiddly-up-up.
4. An A-10 flying beneath my eyeline out of my office window. We were working in a building on the highest point near Cambridge.
5. Three Concordes coming into Heathrow along the Thames on their last ever arrival, while listening to ATC.
6. The passenger cabin ASI in Concorde going to Mach 2 over the Arctic on the Toronto-LHR leg.
7. Sitting next to my retired father as he took off in the flying club Cessna having just passed his PPL.
8. First time at the controls of a glider, just outside Duxford. Instructor:"You're not scared of tight banks, are you". Devonian:"I'M TERRIFIED! WHAT'S IT DOING?"

This is the first time I've listed my peak aviation experiences... I didn't realise I'd had so many,,,
posted by Devonian at 9:00 PM on November 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Trolling? I'll take the bait: The wheels decouple the force of the treadmill from the airplane. The treadmill, save for minor rolling friction, does not influence the airplane's behaviour. The wheels just spin faster. The jets propel the aircraft as per usual.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:38 AM on November 22, 2013


Is it normal for two airports that are so close together to have different unicom frequencies?

An airport with an operating control tower doesn't use a unicom frequency. Unicom frequencies are for use when there's no operating control tower, and are basically an "everyone operating at this airport, tune this frequency and sort it out amongst yourselves" kind of a mechanism.

So even if they did have the same unicom frequency, they wouldn't have used it as they were talking to the tower on the tower's frequency instead. I imagine once they figured out their mistake, they wanted the unicom frequency to be able to get in touch with other aircraft intending to land there and wave them off, sort of thing.
posted by FishBike at 5:36 AM on November 22, 2013


1. Walking out the door from my dorm in undergrad exactly at the moment a pair of the Blue Angels fly right overhead, no more than 1000 ft above and in probably 60º of bank. Holy hell. I don't even know how to describe it.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:38 AM on November 22, 2013


gjc: "Also, the best looking of the tri-jets. There is one at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry decked out in classic United Airlines livery that hangs from the ceiling, and which you can walk on and gawk at"

Did you see how they got it there? Pretty sporting landing it at Meigs.
posted by exogenous at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you see how they got it there?

Wait, what? At the end of the report, they said they are then going to load it on a barge and ship it to Indiana before bringing it back for display. So why did they have to do the crazy heavy-wind short landing, just for publicity? Why didn't they just land somewhere else with a longer runway and near a barge facility, like Gary or something?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:26 AM on November 22, 2013


Pretty sporting landing it at Meigs.

See also the trial program where they successfully landed a C-130 on Forrestal, and took off again. The footage of it is deeply into NOPE NOPE NOPE territory.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2013


That reminds me of this relatively recent video of a small plane landing on a non-gigantic freighter.
posted by exogenous at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? At the end of the report, they said they are then going to load it on a barge and ship it to Indiana before bringing it back for display. So why did they have to do the crazy heavy-wind short landing, just for publicity? Why didn't they just land somewhere else with a longer runway and near a barge facility, like Gary or something?

The Gary airport didn't exist then (I don't think) and it's not on the water anyway.

The landing was ugly, but was done with what appears to be plenty of room to spare. Part of the problem with landing short like that is that they want to have some wiggle room if they have to do a touch and go or a go around. All landings are controlled crashes, that one was just a little more so. Jim Tillman said it was going 115 mph, which is 99 knots. Tremendously slow for a plane like that. But the point is to hit the runway early and make the decision to complete the landing or try again as early as possible.

Plus, the pilot has a lot more latitude when the plane never has to fly again. Whereas a plane that is still in service needs to land as smoothly as possible to reduce metal fatigue on the airframe. If it takes popping a few rivets to complete the last landing, nobody really cares.

(Didn't the MSI have a 707 prior to the 727?)
posted by gjc at 3:27 PM on November 22, 2013


> That knowledge got me to completely lose my drooling fondness for sailing.

My late father had a private pilot's licence that he got in the days when a big chunk of private flying was still done in biplanes from grass strips (aka cowpastures.) I once encountered a flying-related acronym and asked dad what IFR was. He gave me an innocent look and said it meant "I Follow Railroads."

There's bound to be something similar for sailboat navigation. I Follow Coastlines?
posted by jfuller at 11:06 AM on November 23, 2013


Coming late to this thread, but:

* Wichita remains a center of aviation because of how many airplane manufacturers are still there. It's not transcon flights that fuel it; it's the presence of all those factories. There are LOTS of places for big jets to land -- way more than any other town that size.

* The Dreamlifter makes routine flights to and from there because Spirit Aerosystems makes fuselages for it. I've done work with Spirit; you can see where the Dreamlifter lands from their offices.

* Spirit Aerosystems, btw, is a spin-out from Boeing, so while it's technically true that Boeing isn't in Wichita anymore, the "Boeing" that closed wasn't the major Wichita employer that they once were. It's Spirit that makes the 737 fuselages (and which continue to travel by rail to Washington; there's a railhead at the end of the production line, which is awesome) as well as the 787 bits, plus some for Airbus & etc. It's a giant facility.
posted by uberchet at 12:19 PM on November 23, 2013




There's bound to be something similar for sailboat navigation. I Follow Coastlines?

Following coastlines means being in close proximity to various rocks that you don't want to hit, and which may be submerged and invisible. You still really, really need to know where you are.
posted by ocschwar at 3:07 PM on November 25, 2013


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