Florida Airport Evacuated After Discovering Live Missile

Around 2 p.m. on Friday a cargo container was opened at Lakeland Linder International Airport, about 30 miles from Tampa in Florida. Inside was a guided missile.

Lakeland airport hasn’t had scheduled commercial air service since 2012 when Direct Air, which flew Boeing 737s to Myrtle Beach, Niagara Falls, and Springfield, Illinois liquidated. They do have substantial general aviation, including a customs facility.

The shipping container with the missile, from Draken International, came with aircraft pieces inside as well. Draken provides fighter aircraft on a contract basis – as one does – and is based at the airport.

Air Force explosive technicians were brought in, and the airport was evacuated. The warhead was live – but it wasn’t armed.

According to the airport,

Draken International, in the process of evaluating arriving shipments discovered something questionable and potentially explosive. Adhering to the explosive safety rule of exposing the minimum amount of people for the minimum amount of time to a potential explosive hazard the decision was made to evacuate the facility and its surrounding neighbors and contact the appropriate authorities. Draken takes its roll in the community seriously and always wants to ensure it performs safe and reliable operations.

Here is the strange thing about the ordeal. Amazon is providing a statement about the incident as well, that there “is no threat to our associates and Amazon Air operations have not been disrupted” by the live missile. Did Draken order the missile from a third party seller, with Prime delivery? (Update: boy Amazon was sure touchy, and wants me to state that I was obviously joking, duh.)

A man did try to bomb the Asheville, North Carolina airport back in 2017 but he was caught when he tried to earn loyalty program cash back on the supplies. And strange things are occasionally found at airports – for instance two people are buried underneath runway 10/28 at the Savannah Hilton Head airport.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Amazon made a statement because they recently opened a hub at Lakeland. Thus the found missile and closure of the airport could have potentially impacted their operations.

  2. Draken provide dis-similar air combat training (DACT) services to the US Air Force. They do have a sizeable fighter fleet, but I did not realize that they are allowed to have actual live missiles in the inventory. DACT sorties are normally flown using ACM instruments – which resemble air to air missile, but filled with instruments vs warheads.

    Curious to see what missile is it, and how did they get it.

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