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April Fool! Crowd waited for shuttle in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - Hundreds of people were made April Fools by a radio station that reported a space shuttle was going to do the impossible - land at Montgomery Field.

The gullible headed to the airport Thursday morning to watch what they thought would be Discovery's landing, tying up traffic for hours. Neither Discovery, nor any other shuttle, is currently in orbit.

Dave Rickards, a deejay on KGB-FM, told listeners that the shuttle was being diverted from Edwards Air Force Base for an 8:30 a.m. landing at the airport, in a crowded residential-commercial neighborhood.

Airport manager Tom Raines was furious.

"Hundreds of people were late to work. Hundreds of kids were kept out of school or were late to school," he said. "I had to shoo parents away with their video cameras, and a lot of them got really mad."

Police spokesman Bill Robinson said Friday that the radio station was being billed for the dozen officers needed to control the traffic jams to the airport.

Rickards said he was merely "looking for a good scambo for April Fools' Day. I just light these bombs, and then I run away," he said.

KGB general manager Tom Baker said the station was trying to be funny, "and I think Dave pulled it off.

"If we inconvenienced anybody, I'm sorry. That's not what it was intended for. It was intended as an April Fools' joke."

Even if a shuttle were in orbit (Discovery is scheduled lift off Tuesday for an eight-day mission) it would be impossible to land it at Montgomery.

Raines said that Montgomery has a 12,000 pound weight limit on its 3,400-foot runway.

A shuttle weighs about 200,000 pounds at landing and need about 9,000 feet to stop.


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