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Fri, May 19, 2017

Southwest Flight Diverted Due To Pittsburgh Air Show

Boeing 737 Captain Decided To Land Airliner At GA Airport

The captain of a Southwest Boeing 737 decided to land at a GA airport about 11 miles south of Pittsburgh rather than wait in a holding pattern for a opening at Pittsburgh International (KPIT) during the Pittsburgh Air Show on May 14th.

The flight, which was inbound from Orlando, landed at Allegheny County Airport (KAGC) because the airspace around Pittsburgh International was closed due to the Wings over Pittsburgh air show. 

Initially, the flight had been put in a holding pattern, which was what the crew told the passengers. The delay was expected to be about 20 minutes.

But the captain eventually decided that he needed to divert to Allegheny County rather than use up his reserve fuel circling. While Allegheny County Airport has enough runway for the 737, it does not have a commercial terminal.

Southwest arranged for bus transportation ... about a 45 minute ride ... from the smaller airport to Pittsburgh International so that people could retrieve their cars and make connections. The crew also ordered pizza for the passengers while they waited, according to a report appearing in USA Today.

It was the first time the Wings Over Pittsburgh air show had been held in six years. It was put on by the 911th Airlift Wing of the USAF. Major Charles Baker, who was in charge of the event, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is not sure why the plane was put in a holding pattern or why it diverted. He said there were procedures in place to clear the airspace for inbound commercial flights, and that "We have no problem stopping the show for safety at any point. We don't want to be diverting anybody into Allegheny County Airport." 

(Image from file)



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