Mexican Military Pilot Lands in U.S. due to a “Mistake”

August 8th, 2011

By Dan Miller

According to this article,

A Mexican military helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport by mistake, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mucia Dovalina, the uniform public affairs officer for the Laredo Port of Entry, said the helicopter landed about 3 p.m., but she couldn’t share details such as the number of occupants or whether they were armed.

Dovalina said that, following protocol, CBP officers checked out the helicopter’s occupants, then allowed them to return to Mexico in the aircraft.

“The only thing that I can tell you is that they did land here,” she said. “It was by mistake. They were processed and they were returned to Mexico.”

According to a statement from CBP, the pilot mistook the airport for a landing strip in Nuevo Laredo.

This is the latest such incursion that officials have called inadvertent as the Mexican military increases troop deployments in northeastern Mexico.

The Laredo International Airport has two runways running in parallel and another intersecting them at approximately a thirty degree angle, as shown on the diagram provided here. The “landing strip in Nuevo Laredo” has only one runway, as shown on the satellite photo provided here. The configuration of the Neuvo Laredo airport becomes more obvious as the image is enlarged.

Mistakes of that sort are, of course, common when the pilot is blind.

Was it a “mistake?” Possible, I suppose. However, many things done intentionally turn out to have been mistakes.

(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)

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4 Responses to “Mexican Military Pilot Lands in U.S. due to a “Mistake””

  1. Tom Carter |

    After having landed various kinds of aircraft thousands of times at locations ranging from huge and unmistakable (e.g., Dulles International Airport) to small and obscured (little dirt strips and barely cleared holes among the trees), I can understand a pilot landing at the wrong airfield. The differences may be obvious in many cases, but airline pilots have done it, too — way more than once. It’s usually a problem of aviator headspace, but often it’s contributed to by weather,visibility, navigational confusion, and just plain fatigue. These kinds of problems, in general, can result in tragedy, e.g., KAL 007 and the hapless OH-23 that wandered across the DMZ in Korea many years ago.

    I suppose most people don’t choose to think about it, but the truth is a pilot of any kind of aircraft can make any one of an infinite variety of small mistakes that results in sheet metal falling out of the sky.

    I’d be willing to bet that the Mexican pilot who made this mistake got thoroughly reamed out when he got back home. Considering this is Mexico, that might be literally true.

  2. Brian |

    Do you suppose the pilot had his eyes closed as he approached and flew over the Rio Grande? Is there a human being that lives south of the RG that doesn’t know that it’s the line of demarcation?

  3. Tom Carter |

    Hard to imagine, I know. But stuff happens. Kind of like the airline pilot bound for Savannah, GA in the 1970s who mistakenly landed at Hunter Army Airfield. The two fields are 8 miles or so apart, and they don’t look alike at all. I was there around that time, flying out of Hunter and Fort Stewart, and there was a whole lot of snickering going on among pilots who flew in the area. To paraphrase an old axiom, there are only two kinds of pilots where stupid and highly visible mistakes are concerned — those who haven’t and those who will.

  4. Dan Miller |

    People who fly airplanes do make what appear, in retrospect, to have been stupid mistakes. I’ve made my share. Once, the day after traveling space available from Korea to Virginia in an Army cargo aircraft, I decided go flying. I rented a Cessna 150 at Manassas airport and discovered that, in my absence, a taxiway had been added adjacent and parallel to the runway; I landed on the taxiway. Years later I landed without difficulty at Lubbock International, a big airport I had never previously flown into or from. I got lost while on one of what seemed to be several thousand taxiways. Fortunately, the ground control folks helped me find my way.

    We all do that sort of stuff, I guess.

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