Passengers on an American Eagle flight bound for Wichita Falls had to return to DFW last night, but not because of what is being described as ‘pilot error’.  According to a press release from the City of Wichita Falls, American Eagle flight 2536 was circling above the Wichita Falls Regional airport late Sunday night.  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. The 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, the American Eagle subcontractor responsible for Sunday's flight. 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.  Sunday’s flight was this pilot’s first time to land in Wichita Falls.

News Talk 1290 has reached out to American Eagle for comment, but we have not yet received a response.

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