Confused driver mistakes Ankara airport runway for ‘beautiful highway’
Eray Görgülü - ANKARAThe Esenboğa Airport in the Turkish capital Ankara was on full alert on July 24 when a car somehow ended up at the start of the runway, ready for take-off.
The unprecedented incident, which was reported for the first time by daily Hürriyet on Aug. 27, began when a 63-year-old driver flew to Ankara from Istanbul. The unidentified man then went to the airport’s parking lot and got into his car to go to the western province of Afyon.
When the confused driver took a wrong turn, his Black Mercedes arrived at the protocol gate reserved for Turkey’s president. Probably as confused as the driver himself, the police guarding the gate let the car pass, thinking that it was carrying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The protocol gate opens to the taxiway, on which the 63-year-old drove and ultimately reached a runway.
Only after seeing aircraft landing and taking off, the driver noticed his mistake, which led the air traffic control to abort a number of landings for security reasons.
“I initially thought what a beautiful highway it was. Then I realized that it was a runway. So I turned on my hazards and waited to be removed securely from the runway by the authorities,” the man told the airport police after he was detained.
While the driver justified his confusion with his diabetic condition and was released after brief detention, the two policemen who opened the gate were suspended temporarily until the investigation was concluded. “We thought it was an official car,” they said in their testimony.