Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight heading to Branson Airport in Missouri were in for a surprise when their plane never arrived at the correct destination.
Instead, the Boeing 737-700 came awfully close to rolling off a cliff with its 124 passengers.
Flying in from Chicago, Southwest Airlines Flight 4013 was expected to land in Branson Sunday evening before taking off again for Dallas, Texas. For some unknown reason, however, it ended up touching down at Taney County Airport, about 7-9 miles northeast of its scheduled destination, on a runway half the size of the one at Branson.
While airline spokesman Brad Hawkins told the Associated Press, "The landing was uneventful, and all customers and crew are safe," one passenger – a Dallas, Texas attorney named Scott Schieffer – took issue with the statement for apparently neglecting to mention a couple of important facts.
“The landing was absolutely not uneventful,” he posted on Twitter. “The Southwest statement saying so is incorrect; we braked very, very hard.”
Passengers didn’t even realize how serious their situation was – or why the brakes were applied so hard – until they disembarked and saw the edge of a cliff staring at them only 40 feet away.
“We have all deplaned from @SouthwestAir 4013, and the mood is somber now that we realized we were 40 feet from the edge of a cliff,” Schieffer tweeted.
We have all deplaned from @SouthwestAir 4013, and the mood is somber now that we realized we were 40 feet from the edge of a cliff.— Scott Schieffer (@ScottDallasTX) January 13, 2014
The incident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Hawkins, the airline’s ground crew was sent to Taney Airport to transport the passengers and their luggage to Branson, where a separate plane was flown in to continue the trip to Texas. The other plane, meanwhile, is expected to take off from Taney by Tuesday.
This isn’t the first time a large plane has landed at the wrong airport. In late November, RT reported that a massive Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, typically used to haul aircraft parts across the world, landed at a small airport in Kansas a few miles away from its intended destination. Due to the plane’s large size, there was concern it wouldn’t be able to take off using the airport’s smaller runway, though it eventually moved on with a different crew at the helm.