Touch-and-go landings by an unidentified Boeing 737 jet Monday had a few area residents worried about the plane's intentions.
About 6 p.m. the crew of the Boeing 737 announced to Brainerd area air traffic that it would be making several touch-and-go landings and takeoffs at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. It made between 10 and 15 touch-and-go landings, banking low over Brainerd after each one.
The Dispatch received several e-mails about the Boeing 737. A few of the writers expressed concern about the plane's lack of identification and wondered if it was terrorists practicing maneuvers.
On Tuesday, airport staffers and employees of businesses at the airport still weren't sure of the airplane's origin but were sure the airplane was only at the Brainerd airport to practice.
Steve Arhart, of Airmotive Enterprises Inc., said he called to the airplane and asked the crew if the plane was going to land but he was told they would only be practicing touch-and-go landings and not stopping.
"They didn't say anything else," said Arhart.
The airplane was reported to be military, said Steve Sievek, airport manager. He said though it isn't common for a plane as large as a 737 to practice or land, it isn't unheard of in Brainerd.
"They occur. Not every day, but (it's) not that rare, either. They're in and out," Sievek said. He noted the military and flight schools at the University of North Dakota and St. Cloud State University often practice touch-and-go landings at the Brainerd airport because of the crosswind on the runway.
As for the airplane's lack of identification, Sievek noted there are no Federal Aviation Administration rules for airports of Brainerd's size that state an airplane must identify itself, outside of announcing itself to other planes in the area.
"Basically, because (we're) not a towered airport ... they literally don't need anyone's permission to do that at an airport like this," Sievek said. Anyone can practice touch-and-go (landings) but they can't hog the field to the extent that no one else can take off or land.
"It's not uncharacteristic or prohibited activity."
The 6,500-foot runway can handle planes as large as 727s, 737s and DC-9s, Sievek said. A Sun Country charter plane that flies into Brainerd a few times a year is a 737, he said.
"We could accommodate everything but the 747s and DC-10s," Sievek said. The Northwest Airlink planes that routinely fly in and out of Brainerd are SAAB 340 twin-engine turbo props, he said.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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