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Aviation Expert Weighs in on Branson Southwest Flight Snafu

BRANSON, Mo. -- The Southwest Airlines 737 airplane that landed at the wrong Branson airport Sunday took off without a hitch Monday, but questions still remain about why the plane landed at the small local airport in the first place.
BRANSON, Mo. -- The Southwest Airlines 737 airplane that landed at the wrong Branson airport Sunday took off without a hitch Monday, but questions still remain about why the plane landed at the small local airport in the first place.

Dr. Michael Hynes is a pilot and aviation expert.

He also watched this story unfold from his home across Lake Taneycomo from the airport.

"I would have hoped that somebody would have looked out the window and said hey there's something wrong with this picture. This is a classic case of human error and pilot error," he said.

He said a jet this size usually needs 5000 to 6000 feet of runway to land.

The Branson airport where it was supposed to land has about 7000 feet of runway. The downtown airport where they actually landed is only 3700 feet long.

He said the plane travels so fast when it lands that a few more seconds could have spelled disaster.

The plane was traveling about 200 feet per second.

"Both ends of the runway fall off several hundred feet," he said, "If they would have waited two or three more seconds that airplane would have gone off the other end of the runway."

We asked airport manager Mark Parent what he thought of the pilots.

"After landing at the wrong airport they did a great job of landing in a very appropriate way and safely," he said.

And he said it was certainly not a typical Sunday night.

"It's something we haven't seen in the past," he said.

But Hynes feels the landing was nothing short of a miracle.

The in-flight recording devices are being reviewed by the NTSB in Washington, D.C.

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