Never Ever Ever Again

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by coolplane47, Dec 12, 2020.

  1. coolplane47

    coolplane47 Filing Flight Plan

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    Okay, so something happened. Not my finest moment. I am 100% aware that this situation demonstrates poor ADM on both my part and my CFI's part. No need to reiterate how dumb and avoidable this was. I just want other student pilots or new pilots to learn from my mistake.

    Here's what happened: My CFI and I have been gone for about 2 hours on a xc flight. It was a fairly windy week with the ASOS repeatedly reporting winds as 'missing'. As we approach the airport, winds were again 'missing' so we decided to do a straight-in approach to 36 since that was the easiest thing to do. At this point, we hadn't heard any other traffic at the airport. I called 10 mile, 5 mile, and short final. Right as we were about to touch down (at this point I was 100% concentrating on landing because, well, it's hard) I see out of the corner of my eye a Cessna 100 - 200 ft above us and to our left (departing 18). At the same moment, the pilot of the other AC transmits, "do your radios work?" and my instructor replies, "we called short final."

    It might seem weird that we didn't see the other AC, but in hindsight, the runway has a slight upward curve, and we didn't have the advantage of being in the traffic pattern. I'm also not sure why we didn't hear the other AC or why he didn't transmit his intentions. Our radios obviously worked and so did his. I can understand not calling crosswind or taxi intentions, but announcing your departure seems like the #1 rule of non-towered airports. Maybe he somehow didn't hear us and assumed he was good to depart? I've only ever caught myself once not actually pushing the PTT button while making announcements and I feel like my instructor would have caught that if that had been the problem.

    Lessons learned: 1) use the traffic pattern even if it's annoying. 2) make all your radio calls especially when moving onto active runways.

    After this experience, I have decided that straight in finals are not a good idea at a non-towered airport, and I will definitely not be making this mistake again.
     
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  2. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hard to say what ‘really’ happened but don’t automatically rule out straight ins. You say you announced but sounds like you didn’t hear HIM announce, so that’s not your fault, nor the decision to go straight in. Sounds you’re doing primary training? Can’t say straight ins are the norm during training but yeah, maybe for now just join the pattern.
     
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  3. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    Here's my guess as to what *might've* happened.

    The other guy is getting ready to take off on 18. He hears you announce the straight-in for 36... but for whatever reason doesn't "hear" the part about the runway number and that it's opposite direction as his takeoff. I can understand how this can happen... Sometimes if you've got something in your mind (like that 18 is "the runway) and you have a vision of what things are supposed to look like, that mind can just filter out the things that aren't part of the vision. This is why it can sometimes take so long to figure out "I'm lined up with the wrong runway" or "This is the wrong airport" or other things that seem obvious in retrospect. But anyway...

    So the other guy is at the hold short line for 18... thinks he hears you coming in for the straight in, but for 18 (behind him), and figures "I've got time to make my departure before they arrive behind me, no biggie" and off he goes. He only realized later that you were coming in from the opposite direction.

    Nothing wrong with straight-in's when appropriate. As long as you announced it was for 36 (is it possible your CFI forgot to mention the runway number?), it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. Perhaps they other guy's got his own "Never Again" narrative, about how you need to listen and process the WHOLE transmission and ask for clarification about runway numbers. Nothing wrong with keying PTT and saying "Did you say 36?"

    Just a guess.
     
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  4. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Things happen at “pilot controlled” airports, be vigilant. There is no reason to negate straight in approach .

    If I didn’t do straight in, I won’t be going anywhere much .

    Let the discussion begin about entering traffic patterns ....
     
  5. Howard Wilson

    Howard Wilson Line Up and Wait

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    If the winds were a concern, why not overfly the airport and look for the windsock? This would have the added benefit of the chance to see other traffic. ;-P
     
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  6. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I’m with @Howard Wilson
    My only critique based on your post is if the winds are unknown i overfly the airport to determine best runway.
     
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  7. coolplane47

    coolplane47 Filing Flight Plan

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    That's what I keep asking myself . . . One of the reasons I was questioning our ADM skills
     
  8. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    There’s an art to risk management and some lessons are learned the hard way no matter how careful we are in the air. Sounds like you are doing ok to me.
     
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  9. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Accidents occur through a series of swiss cheese slices. When the holes line up, you have a bad outcome. In this case, you picked a runway even though you didn't know what the winds were. That was the first slice. The second slice lined up when you decided to fly a straight-in to that runway. The third slice lined up when neither of you heard each other's radio calls. So now you have three holes line up. The situation is ripe for a midair collision. However, the fourth slice that saved the day is the runway length. Presumably it was long enough for the departing traffic to be at 200 ft at the end of the runway, which broke the accident chain.

    I would disagree with your conclusion that straight-ins are not a good idea. An instrument approach is a straight-in, and it is done all the time into uncontrolled fields. Just don't let too many risk factors enter the picture.
     
  10. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route

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    A couple of planes “traded paint” after landing in opposite directions after the tower had closed at my home airport. I believe one of the pilots admitted he wasn’t making radio calls. They both were very fortunate it wasn’t worse. Be careful out there.
     
  11. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Good that you recognize the danger. But don't beat yourself up over it.

    Could have done better - check volume, did you turn it down? Check frequency, are you on the right one? Radio check? Keep an eye out for NORDO (no radio) traffic, always. But what do you think you could have done better?

    Obviously you were already on the frequency because the other guy said something.

    And don't write off straight ins. You'll do more than one of them when you're doing your IFR.
     
  12. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-Flight

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    I don’t do, or like others doing straight ins.
    A radio is not required, so there is always the possibility of someone not being on the radio. I always overfly, one reason is to look at the environment, are there planes at the fuel pump, just starting up, already on the runway, or anyone obstructions on the runway, like people or cars. Second, I like to look at the windsock, is the weather report current? Correct?
    I have seen many times when other pilots call out the wrong runway, call their position, but it’s wrong, or are on the wrong frequency. I doubt anyone here has never been on the wrong frequency?? I can listen to three at once, but have to look at the radios to know what frequency it’s coming in on.
    Just the other day, I heard a Skyhawk call 3 miles south of the field. I never heard what his intent was. I was just about to enter the runway when I look and there is a plane on short final. After he landed, I radioed that it was a good thing I looked (kind of being a smart ass), that I was just about to enter the runway. He said “I called my position”.
    I operate on the theory that people fly like they drive, so I’m always looking. Even more so when I fly a plane with no radio!
     
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  13. Robert Helmick

    Robert Helmick Pre-Flight

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    I'm kind of new to all this but the only time I fly a straight-in is at night at the uncontrolled airport when I'm turning on the lights and I make a call and there's no response but nobody's in the pattern etc etc.


    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    There are a few airports close by that use the same CTAF/Unicom frequency as we have. I have to be diligent in listening to the radio calls as one airport, 20 miles away, also has a 05/23 runway.

    Don't beat yourself up too bad. You learned a valuable lesson.

    Keep in mind the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt: "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."
     
  15. coolplane47

    coolplane47 Filing Flight Plan

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    Exactly why I wanted to post this!
     
  16. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Pre-Flight

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    Did the other guy make radio calls that you didn't hear? Or did he fail to make calls?

    I have an issue with one of my CFIs because he turns down the radios so much that I can barely hear them, and I cannot hear them if he is talking. I ask him to turn them up. Another CFI I have flown with leaves the radios at high volume but attempts to talk over them. Either way, it can teach someone to not listen to radio calls, and that is something that I do not agree with, with both instructors. I have found that I will do it their way to get past PPL, but once I am certified, I will be doing things a bit different.
     
  17. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    In my opinion landing when you don’t know which way the wind blows is a bad idea. I feel that is what windsocks are for.

    In my opinion imagining others will make correct radio calls and people will hear your radio calls accurately is an unreasonable fantasy.

    I have not found a way to know when I have stepped on someone’s radio call.

    In my opinion many pilots don’t make good radio calls because their flight instructor didn’t make good radio calls because they felt making good radio calls was unimportant.

    I feel communication at a non-towered airport is important.
     
  18. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had a learning experience a few weeks back that might fit in here.

    It was a gorgeous day here in E TN. I was taking the wife of a friend, who is also an instructor, for a quick flight in the Sky Arrow. I thought a quick trip up to Oliver Springs would be fun, and it was.

    As background, I had contacted the airport manager some time before to be sure it was OK to land there. He said yes, but that it was safest to land to the north and takeoff to the south. Taking off to the north you have rapidly rising terrain, and landing to the south there are powerlines to contend with. This from Google Earth shows the general terrain:

    [​IMG]

    My first mistake was not taking the time, either in preflight or enroute, to look up and jot down the runway numbers. As such, when I arrived overhead, I announced my intention to descend to a left downwind for the “north runway”. When I reported entering a left downwind for the “north runway”, a Citabria got on the air and said, “That’s 15 and I’ll follow you in.” I thanked him and made a couple calls referencing - incorrectly - my base and final to 15, and that I’d land and clear into the runup area to allow him to land. On final, my passenger asked my heading, which was clearly not 150°, but close to the reciprocal. I said “He must be turned around - maybe Mature Onset Dyslexia!”. Anyway, landed nicely - on 33 as it turned out - got clear of the runway and waited and looked and looked and...there he came on short final - for 15, of course.

    Well, no harm no foul, no “paint traded”, but I feel embarrassed regardless. First, I should have definitely known the runway numbers before arrival. Second, I should never have gotten trapped in a series of assumptions that logically seemed to build on each other, but were clearly unfounded. I later explained and apologized to both my passenger and her husband and got “Hey! It happens!” and was told of similar recent befuddlements that had befallen them. Anyway, a good lesson for me.
     
  19. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    A couple of notes:

    The general forecast surface wind was available at your ETA from your weather briefing. You could have also used another airports ASOS to get a general direction and velocity well before your arrival. The is no favored runway with a 90 degree crosswind.

    There is the chance that you made your radio calls and he made his exactly at the same time and neither of you heard the other. There is also the chance you were not depressing the PTT or the switch is intermittent defective.

    Also keep in mind to use you landing light (assuming you have one) 10 miles approaching the airport and especially in the pattern so your aircraft is more visible on final.

    In this situation, the pilots in both aircraft could have seen the other aircraft had they been looking. In mid air collisions under VMC, at least one of the pilots could have prevented to collision had they been effectively scanning. In your situation 3 pilots failed.

    For what it is worth, the aircraft on final has the right of way.
     
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  20. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have wig-wag lights that are attention getting (see 2:40 in the video for a look at final approach):

     
  21. PaulMKE

    PaulMKE Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you want to exercise good ADM as a result of this experience, you should start by finding a new instructor.
     
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  22. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    I'm thinking the 2hrs of flight might be another thing regarding your ADM. At that duration many are ready to be done flying but doing a full pattern especially if coming from upwind end can easily add another 5-8 minutes to the flight. So did the 2hr play any role in the straight in decision?
     
  23. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Oh yeah, a ever so slight pitch for ADSB. With so many being equipped these days there was a decent chance of seeing the guy on the ground if he was equipped with a strong enough OUT and you were running an IN. I would never count on it. However I see people on the ground all the time. You can't tell very good where they are on the ground but they usually have a radio if they're squitting and I've asked a few which runway they are using, etc.

    Just mentioning it as another tool, thats all. Did you see them on your IN?
     
  24. mcmanigle

    mcmanigle Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I once landed opposite direction to someone; long runway and we didn't see each other until both touching down, and thankfully we were both in slow planes that each only "needed" about 1/4 of the runway. In that case, he was landing on the "wrong" end wind-wise because it was a shorter straight-in for him, and he didn't see that the CTAF had changed since the last charts were published (check NOTAMs, even for a quick fuel stop).

    To the OP, also good to remember that (even though it's becoming more rare and I think these days there are few good reasons to do it) it's legal to fly with no radio in the plane at all, so you still need to use eyeballs as your #1 avoidance technique, especially outside of controlled airspace. That said, as my story above might suggest, I'm sympathetic to the fact that "just look for other planes with your eyeballs" is easy to say but not foolproof either.
     
  25. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Why is straight in "easier"? Seems to me harder. Quicker, to be certain, but you don't get a chance to sort out the wind on the downwind and as another said, see the windsock. Or the other airplane.

    You really shouldn't need an ASOS or anything else to parse out winds. Lots of airports haven't fancy stuff like that. You should be able to spot something, smoke, flags, something that indicates which way the wind blows. You should definitely be able to tell on your downwind, because you can see which way you're being blown. All else fails, the windsock will work every time.
     
  26. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    As @steingar said, there are ways besides the windsock and ASOS to determine winds. You really didn’t indicate how you determined which runway to land on based on potential winds.

    like others, I wouldn’t rule out straight-ins. It’s just a different set of ADM issues than flying a pattern.

    ****ing contests on the radio are always fun. To the question of “do your radios work?” I would have responded “no.”
     
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  27. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack En-Route

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    I have flown a lot of formation. Twice, I've had issues where when the two planes got close together, the radios wouldn't work. I'm not sure why, but when we got further apart they worked.

    This weekend, I was in the pattern in my Little Toot. I was following a local gyroplane pilot and wasn't hearing any radio calls. When I said I had him in site on final and asked if he was making radio calls, he said yes he had been. Now why would I not hear the other calls, but I would hear this one??? Probably because he wasn't making calls.

    The same guy, who is a friend of mine, told me my radio in the Toot sucks and he can barely hear me. Everyone else tells me it's clear. My point it, aviation radios suck! Maybe it's mine, maybe it's yours, who knows?
     
  28. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    One key to remember at non-towered airports...you will never know if your radio isn't working. You may not be transmitting but no one will know that to tell you. You may not be receiving but you couldn't hear anyone that was trying to tell you. Make radio calls like you should, but never assume anyone heard you or that you heard them. You have to be vigilant looking out the window.


    And no ADS-B does not replace the window!

    I'll add, when coming into an airport, look at the entire airfield. Look for planes taxiing, airplanes running up. Don't just focus on the numbers on the end of the runway. Look on downwind, base, and final for all runways, that's where planes may be! That is why flying a pattern over a straight in can be a good idea, it gives you a much better view of the area for aircraft.
     
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  29. George Mohr

    George Mohr Line Up and Wait

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    Can someone offer a 'good' reason for a straight in at a non-towered airport? Other than a practice IAP?
     
  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Ever try to follow a Cub around the pattern in a King Air?
     
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  31. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route

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    Nope, but I’ve been above them and outside them. :)
     
  32. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    So have I...and the ******* cut me off on final 3 times.
     
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  33. George Mohr

    George Mohr Line Up and Wait

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    Nordo cubs are a menace ;) I'll add to my rant-in-form-of-a-question. "Can anyone offer a 'good' reason to fly Nordo these days? Not even with a handheld?"
     
  34. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    There's nothing whatsoever wrong with a straight in approach. But the proviso is you really have to be on top of winds and traffic pattern. I don't do them unless I'm damn certain I know everything that's going on. Actually, I did one on purpose a few weeks ago. I decided to do a flight that took me well outside my comfort zone, including a touch and go (on a 12,000 foot runway!) and a straight in approach. I was on comms with the local airport traffic and actually offered to forego the approach. It turned out better that I do the straight in as it relieved a bit of traffic congestion. Did a touch and go there too, just to get out of the way.

    The OPs faux pas wasn't doing a straight in approach. It was failing to contend with winds and traffic.
     
  35. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    So you don’t have to listen to people who don’t know how to use a radio.

    So you’re not tempted to get into ****ing contests with some ******* who cuts you off three times on final.
     
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  36. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    I think your conclusion is a bit too strong. Straight-in finals are a tool in the pilot's toolbox that you should know when and how to use. They have many purposes, including practicing so you are able to execute them safely and comfortably at towered airports when that's what the tower wants from you.

    But I would not plan a straight-in VFR approach if the winds were unknown. My take here is that your combined flight crew's (you and the CFI) real mistake was not obtaining wind information before committing to a runway and pattern. Overfly the field at 1500 AGL, check out the wind sock, and enter an appropriate traffic pattern, with appropriate radio usage throughout. (I was going to add "look for traffic" but that is something you should do 100% of the time without prompting.)

    In my experience flying a Cub with a handheld, it is 99% useless without a headset and about 50% useless with one. The range and quality of transmission and reception are both highly dependent on direction. If I am taking off on RWY 12 and you are on a 2-mile final for RWY 30, you and I probably won't be able to talk to each other. It really is that bad and I would never bet my life on you hearing me or on me hearing you. You shouldn't bet your life on it, either.

    Ever since an ag plane took off straight at me as I was on final for the wind-preferred runway for a pancake breakfast fly-in that the ag pilot certainly knew was going on, I have found it best to assume that there is a NORDO plane trying to kamikaze me in the pattern. That assumption has kept me safe in other situations, such as the guy dive-bombing 100 feet in front of me in line at Fisk in 2018 and the time I didn't realize that some airports have separate CTAF and Unicom frequencies (KPIR, for example).

    Technology and humans both fail sometimes. If you don't know who the NORDO plane is in the pattern, it could be you.
     
  37. George Mohr

    George Mohr Line Up and Wait

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    You need a headset, yes. I'd suggest that a good handheld is way more than 50% reliable in the traffic pattern at an airport. You just need the antenna mounted where it has good LOS. I flew a glider for years with power source other than a 12V battery and a King comm radio in the panel. If gliders can do it, anyone can.

    But yes, Nordo happens. Which is another reason why I like a traffic pattern. It gives you and them the best possible chance of seeing each other.
     
  38. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Gliders don't have noisy magnetos. I have an external (to the radio, internal to the plane and not permanently mounted) antenna for use in the Cub. I stopped using it because the rubber-duck antenna on the handheld worked just as well unless I was willing to do major surgery on the plane to mount a whip somewhere on the plane. The reality is that we NORDO Cubs are indeed a menace, and you can count on the menace being with you for decades to come. So plan accordingly. :)
     
  39. George Mohr

    George Mohr Line Up and Wait

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    Agree, and its not just cubs obviously. Lots of gliders and ultralights and champs and ....

    Fly a traffic pattern, make good radio calls and look outside a lot.
     
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