City and Sheppard AFB Not in Error for Diverted Flight

American Eagle flight 2536 scheduled to land at the Wichita Falls Regional Airport Sunday night returned to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport due to pilot error.

While circling above the Wichita Falls Regional airport, the pilot informed passengers that the "flight was unable to land because the runway lights were turned off and nobody was at the Regional Airport to turn them on."

The pilot did not inform the passengers that the runway light system can be operated by pilots by using their radio system and a specific radio frequency. This pilot had been using the wrong frequency and could not turn on the lighting system for one of the runways. A second runway was lit and available for use, but the pilot told passengers that due to weather conditions he could not land on that runway. The runway that was lit was over 10,000 feet in length.  The City has confirmed that visibility was five miles with a ceiling of 700 feet and there were no "weather conditions" that would have prevented the pilot from landing on the available runway.

The Wichita Falls Airport staff has contacted Express Jet, which is the American Eagle subcontractor responsible for Sunday's Flight #2536 being diverted. Staff expressed their concerns on Sunday night's cancellation and provided documentation provided by Sheppard Air Force Base personnel to be used in future flights to Wichita Falls. (In the pilot's defense, it was noted that this was his first time to land in Wichita Falls.)