The Complex

The C-17 that mistakenly landed at a commuter airport was carrying Gen. Mattis

Happy Friday, everyone.

You might not remember, but last summer a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane bound for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Fl., accidentally landed at tiny Peter O. Knight airport.

The pilots were apparently so tired after a 12 hour flight from Italy that they landed the giant plane at an airport frequented by small propeller planes -- leaving the C-17 stranded for several days until its cargo could be offloaded, making the jet light enough to take off from the 3,580-foot runway, which is maybe a third the length of the runways at MacDill.

But the best part of the story just became public. Among the C-17's cargo? Centcom boss Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who was flying into, or trying to fly into, Centcom headquarters at MacDill.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Responding by email to the Times, [Mattis] used the expression "much ado about nothing."

He said he put in a good word for the pilot, whose name has not been made public. Mattis noted that he had made his own "colossal mistakes" in earlier years.

"Some young guys made a human error," he wrote, "and hopefully they'll recover and enjoy long and illustrious careers."

Apparently, this isn't the first time pilots have mistaken the executive airport for MacDill, according to the Times. The runways at both fields are laid out in the same way about four miles apart. Still, the entire executive airport could fit in a small corner of MacDill. (It's so small that I had trouble finding it on Google Maps in satellite view.)

Click here to read more from the Tampa Tribune, who discovered that Mattis was aboard the C-17. 

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