WICHITA, Kan. —
While it’s rare for a pilot to land at the wrong airport, occasional confusion is not unusual.
Every month or two, a pilot headed toward Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport begins to turn toward McConnell by mistake, said Brent Spencer, a former air traffic controller in Wichita who is now an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.
Mid-Continent and McConnell “have an almost identical runway setup, so it was not at all uncommon for an airliner or someone coming in from the east ... to pick up the wrong runway lights,” he said. It happened often enough that “we would always watch for that, and we could always correct the pilot.”
Jabara’s 6,100-foot runway is toward the low end of what Boeing recommends for the 747. How much runway the plane needs varies depending on weather, the weight of the loaded plane and the airport’s elevation.
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