Oops: Some 130 Delta passengers were stuck on the tarmac for hours Thursday night after they were mistakenly taken to a military airport instead of a civilian one. The airline says Flight 2845 landed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota instead of Rapid City Regional Airport, which is around 5 miles away, KEVN reports. Armed military personnel walked through the cabin while the plane was at the base and passengers were ordered to keep their window shades closed. This was a "gross breach of the security of our Airfield that present[ed] a potential threat to both our Airmen and our resources," Col. Gentry Boswell, 28th Bomb Wing commander at the base, tells ABC.
Boswell says the runways at the two airports are oriented in roughly the same direction, though the one at the Air Force base is much longer and wider than the Rapid City one the Delta crew had been cleared to land at. "Incidents like this occur when pilots fail to execute the basic measures of airmanship," he says. The passengers arrived at their destination more than two hours late after a new crew was dispatched. Delta says it is investigating the incident and passengers were offered a "gesture of apology," reports the AP, which notes that there have been at least 35 wrong landings of commercial flights in the US over the last 25 years. (In 2014, a Southwest Airlines pilot had to do a lot of heavy braking after mistakenly landing at an airport with a runway much shorter than the one he expected.)