Pilot lands huge plane on tiny runway, Massive military plane lands at wrong airport in Tampa, A military cargo plane that typically requires 3,500 feet for takeoff landed unexpectedly Friday at Peter O. Knight Airport, where the longest runway is 95 feet short.
Work began immediately to lighten the load of the 174-foot-long aircraft so that it might leave Davis Islands safely.
The drama ended at 8:27 p.m., when the C-17 Globemaster III took a hop over Hillsborough Bay to MacDill, the original destination. It landed just a few minutes later.
It was unclear why the plane, headed to MacDill, made an unscheduled landing at the small airport near downtown Tampa. Master Sgt. Bryan Gatewood, a spokesman for MacDill Air Force Base, said authorities are investigating.
Hillsborough County Aviation Authority spokeswoman Janet Zink said the plane landed "inadvertently" at Peter O. Knight Airport.
The plane, arriving from U.S. Central Command operations in southwest Asia with 23 passengers and a crew of 19, touched down on Davis Islands about 1:20 p.m., authorities said.
"It was so loud, it woke up my sister who was sleeping at the time," said Chelsea Alper, 23, a Stetson University College of Law student who was in a convenience store on E Davis Boulevard when she heard the roar of the engines.
Minutes later, witnesses saw a caravan of military vehicles respond to the runway, retrieve the crew and begin to haul away cargo.
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the bulky plane has a wingspan of nearly 170 feet.
At 55 feet high, it appeared twice as tall as a nearby hangar, and from certain angles it eclipsed two blue-and-white buses that pulled onto the runway shortly before 5 p.m.