After waiting 5-10 minutes with the airplane just sitting on the end of the runway we figured they would shut down...to our dismay it started reversing back to the approach end of runway 22. Due to the size and turn radius of the C17 it was unable to use our taxiways or turn around on the runway.
Next, we watched in anticipation of it taking off. The Globemaster rested at what appeared to be the end of the runway and time passed by, but eventually the engines were shut down. The unfortunate thing was that the C17 wasn't actually at the end of the runway, rather blocking both runways (4/22 and 18/36) thus the airport was closed until further notice.
Next we waited...and a convoy of trucks, vans, etc came from MacDill to pick up the passengers and baggage. Once that was complete the crew was taken off the airplane and transported away in a couple of busses...long day for them to say the least! Eventually, another van showed up with the new crew and mechanics and they started to get to work.
Just after 8pm the airplane went in reverse again and moved to the end of runway 22. A few more minutes went by and then we heard the engines spooling up to full power...the water behind the airplane in the channel was spewing all over! Then it started rolling, the C17 picked up speed and lifted off approximately 3/4 of the way down the runway with plenty of runway to spare; it had very impressive climb performance too as it took off into the sunset...with cheers of our pilot friends and fellow residents!
Lessons learned: Peter O Knight and MacDill AFB have a similar appearance from the air...only thing is we are about a third of their size! However, its not the first time that pilots have got the two airports confused; there have been past instances of general aviation landing at MacDill and government airplanes landing at Peter O Knight. Make sure to do your flight planning and if in question ask air traffic control for guidance...its always easier to ask a question then deal with the unfavorable repercussions afterwards.
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