Massive Plane Finally Leaves Tiny Kansas Airport Where It Accidentally Landed

Update: The Boeing air freighter took off from Jabara Airport in Wichita, Kan., Thursday afternoon after being stuck there overnight.

1. Updated — 2:20 p.m. ET

2. An enormous cargo plane, a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, mistakenly landed late Wednesday at the wrong airport in Wichita and was stuck there overnight. It finally took off around 2 p.m. ET on Thursday.

3. Atlas Air Flight 4241 originated in New York and was scheduled to land at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, but instead landed at the smaller Jabara Airport a few miles away.

FlightAware / Via

According to Boeing, the Dreamlifter’s cargo hold is the largest in the world, by volume. It is one of four custom aircraft employed by Boeing and used to haul 787 Dreamliner parts.

4. The mammoth plane needs 9,199 feet of runway to take off at maximum weight, but the runway length at Jabara is just 6,101 feet.

5. It is not known why the plane landed at the smaller airport but it appears to have been a mistake.

Alex Hunt

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to investigate whether the pilot followed controllers’ instructions or violated any federal regulations.

6. Air traffic control audio recorded during the incident shows the disoriented pilots thought they had landed at Beech Factory Airport in Wichita before realizing they were actually at Jabara.

View this embed ›

Tower: “Do you know which airport you’re at?”

Pilot: “Well we think we have a pretty good pulse — how many airports directly to the south … are there?”

ATC recordings show #DreamLifter pilots thought they landed at Beech Field, not McConnell -- they were really at Jabara #breaking @KWCH12

— KWCH12NDBrian (@Brian Gregory)

At 9:26pm #Dreamlifter pilots ask for tower freq at Beech Field (told it's closed)...then ask for airport coords

— KWCH12NDBrian (@Brian Gregory)

Atlas Air #DreamLifter pilots have flown to #McConnell at least 26 times since August 23, 2013 according to #FlightAware @ricktillery

— KWCH12NDBrian (@Brian Gregory)

10. Boeing sent a tug from its Wichita facilities to the airport to try to turn around the Dreamlifter, but that could take some time…

11. Because on the way to the airport early Thursday, the tug broke down. Another tug was brought in later in the day.

PHOTO: Tug headed to Jabara Airport to move #dreamlifter broke down along Webb. #kwch12 #kwchtraffic

— KWCH12 (@KWCH Eyewitness News)

12. The plane finally took off Thursday afternoon and headed for McConnell Air Force Base.

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Jon Passantino is the Deputy News Director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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