Plane landing mistake: It's happened here, too - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Plane landing mistake: It's happened here, too

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -  A Southwest Airlines plane landed at the wrong airport in Missouri Sunday. It went to Taney County Airport instead of Branson Airport. It was unclear why the plane went to the wrong airport.

Does this happen often? Newsline 9 found it actually happened at the Wausau Airport in March 1991 when an Emerald Airlines commercial jet mistakenly landed there.

"The dispatcher told the pilots to come to Wausau,” said John Chmiel, the Wausau Airport manager. “So they looked up the airports in the Wausau area found the Wausau airport and planned their flight to come into Wausau."

The problem was, they went to the wrong airport.

"It wasn't until after the airplane landed they figured out there was a miscommunication between the dispatcher and the pilot and the airplane had gone to the wrong airport," said Chmiel.

The plane was supposed to go to Central Wisconsin Airport, which can hold larger jets than Wausau. Managers at CWA say size is not the only difference.

"We've got differently numbered runways, we've got differently numbered and named approaches to those runways and it should've been caught," said Tony Yaron, the Central Wisconsin Airport director.

So how could this happen?

"It's usually at the end of a very long day and probably at night where it's really difficult to see landmarks that would help pinpoint your location," said Chmiel.

Managers say landing at a wrong airport can be easily avoided.

"Duty time and rest time for pilots is very important because the more rested a pilot is the better they are to make decisions," said Chmiel.

But managers say luckily, they don't occur often.

"Every once in a while mistakes happen and these sorts of things happen," said Chmiel.

Even here in central Wisconsin. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story
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