Doofus Of The Day #630

Today’s award goes to the crew of a USAF C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, who clearly need some refresher training in navigation and landing procedures.  TIME’s Battleland military blog reports:

The Air Force spent a lot of time and money a generation ago when it designed its C-17 cargo airplane to take off and land at short, unimproved runways around the world – “austere” was the word of choice. But it couldn’t imagine that capability would be needed because a pilot would someday err and land at the tiny Davis Islands airport near Tampa, Fla., instead of the huge MacDill Air Force Base nearby.

The Air Force has remained mum on the embarrassing July 20 mishap, saying it remains under investigation. “They weren’t on our frequency,” Deric Dymerski, who runs the company that manages ground operations at the smaller airport, told the Tampa Bay Times. “They just showed up.”

And it was a tight fit: MacDill has an 11,500-foot runway, compared to the island airport’s 3,500-foot airstrip about five miles away.

There’s more at the link.  Here’s video footage of the aircraft landing.

Fortunately, the C-17 was able to take off again that evening without mishap, and return to its original destination.  I bet that crew was hard on their brakes, thrust reversers, and sphincters while stopping so big a plane on so short a runway!



  1. My first Air Force assignment was to Heidelberg AAF in Germany. During their initial operational flight testing they brought a C-17 to Heidelberg to conduct a short-field landing. To say that watching that big beautiful bird swoop down for a landing on the 3,500ftX75ft runway was impressive would be an understatement. The crew conducted a three-point turn under their own power and took off in the opposite direction. It was, up to that point, the coolest thing I'd seen in my military career.

  2. Today's Doofus award must go the Vice President of the United States Mr. Joesph Biden, for his "Mitt Romney Gonna Put Y'all Back In Chains" speech…
    Which is a 'new low' even for Obama's administration.

  3. I'd like to see the investigation report, but given the information available, I'd bet on a command pilot near retirement and a wager — or perhaps just a challenge: "I could …" "No you couldn't …" followed by those famous works:


    No matter what the report, I'll never believe "error."

    Old Guy

  4. I'm not sure Doofuss is appropriate. I generally reserve that for what my father called 'deliberate stupidity'.

    Davis Islands runway and McGill's are in a direct line, about five miles apart, say a minute and a half apart at a C-17's pattern speed. I'm guessing cognitive error – they knew they were on approach, there was a runway RIGHT THERE, and info to the contrary – GPS and stuff – got rationalized away.

    It happens, more often than people think. In this case it probably cost someone their career.

    Years (fifteen years or more) ago, while I a passenger in a light plane the pilot lined up on the runway at China Lake NWS instead of Inyokern Municpal. The Navy guys were on the ball in the tower and red-lighted us long before we even crossed into base territory (I heard later it was a common error there).

    My pilot turned away and landed at the appropriate field. He was white and shaking afterwards – not a pleasant experience.

    The two fields in Florida are about the same distance apart, not quite as directly aligned, and the pilot wasn't a military professional with thousands of hours … still, I can see how it happened.

  5. Thats my airport. I went to go and practice touch and go's on that Friday late afternoon and lo and behold, this very large plane was sitting on the runway. Ooops, airport closed.

    The runway was rated for 20,000 lbs, this behemoth was estimated to weigh around 400,000. Fortunately, there was no damage to the runway.

    Excellent short field performance for both takeoff and landing. 3500 feet vs 11,000. Some damn good flying, some equally poor navigation…

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