Northwest News

High point in Don Scott history was low point for pilot


A woman on hand for last week's annual meeting of the Northwest Civic Association recalled thinking the country had been invaded.

It was the summer of 1967, and what had the woman convinced something very serious was happening was the enormous, absolutely huge, aircraft that flew over her home.

Actually, it was a case of one pilot correcting the mistake of another.

During his address as guest speaker for the annual meeting, Ohio State University Airport Director Doug Hammon talked about the time a Boeing 707 landed on a Don Scott Field runway.

The massive aircraft did so on a runway less than half the length supposedly required for a landing, according to various accounts of the incident.

What happened, Hammon said, was that in those days air-traffic controllers would allow pilots to land when they cited a runway.

According to a "Columbus Mileposts" item in The Dispatch July 4, 2012, TWA pilot Howard Chittenden, flying 49 passengers and a crew of seven from Chicago to Columbus, mistook Don Scott Field for Columbus International Airport, and put the big plane down on the 4,400-foot runway shortly after midnight July 4, 1967.

The passengers were taken by bus to the correct airport, according to reports.

In order to get the craft back in the air, company officials brought in an especially skilled pilot, and removed not only all the baggage but also the seats, according to Hammon.

He added the pilot who landed the plane at the wrong airport was fired by TWA, but then was rehired when company officials realized just how skilled he had to be to have pulled it off safely.