Ooops! Wrong airport.
A SouthWest Airlines 737 landed at the wrong airport Sunday night...only missed it's mark by 7 miles. Here's the story:
The runway at Taney county airport is about 3700 feet long or about half as long as the runway at the airport in Branson, MO where the plane was supposed to land.
Beyond the question of 'how could a pilot land at the wrong airport?' is an even bigger question: how do you get the plane out of there? A 737 needs a minimum of 3400 feet for takeoff assuming many different variables. For a pilot, landings are the toughest part of the job. For the plane, take-offs provide the real challenge because some many factors affect how much space is required to get airborne: wind direction, weight and balance, humidity, and on and on. Plus, the distance to work with is fixed and you only get one shot at it. With a landing, as long as you've got enough fuel, you can always go around and try it again or find a different landing site.
A friend of mine is a commercial pilot and he sent me a text describing what's going to happen next with the plane: "There's going to be a LOT of paperwork from the airline and the FAA to get authorization to take off. Once they have authorization, they'll probably get Boeing engineers involved to work the numbers. They'll have to make the plane light enough for takeoff from such a short runway...ie no passengers, minimum fuel, etc. I'm sure these dorks have been removed from duty for a while. LOL."