This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports.
I was on descent from 3,500 feet, preparing to land at ZZZ. Was on CTAF frequency, announced intentions, location, etc.
Another aircraft was leaving the area in the direction I was flying in from, so I was very carefully scanning the sky in the direction of the airport, dedicating most of my scan time on that area (my 9-12 o’clock), since I knew someone from there was headed at the precise location I was at.
Looked down at my checklist (on iPad) and saw it was on the wrong page. Flipped it to the right page. This took approximately 10 seconds.
When I looked back up, a plane was crossing ahead of me, right to left, same altitude, climbing, approximately 300 feet away. Seems that as I was descending on about a 060 heading, it was climbing and turning left slowly, causing it to be out of my sight until it got close to my altitude (visibility down and right is rather bad in a Cessna 182 since the door obscures the view).
It was not the plane I was looking for from ZZZ, just some other plane that happened to be in the area and not on the CTAF frequency. We passed each other around 300 feet away.
I turned right to accelerate this. The other plane did not change course and I suspect they never saw me.
My main issues here:
- I concentrated too much of my scan on an area of the sky where I expected to see a plane, and
- I took my eyes off the sky for 10 seconds to fumble with an iPad.
Other aircraft main issues:
- Visibility UP in a Cessna is much better than DOWN (plexiglass windshield vs aluminum floor/doors).
- They should have also been looking — my plane should have been in their view for a long time.
Corrective actions: Switch back to paper checklists — they cannot flip to the wrong page and thus waste valuable eye-time.
Primary Problem: Human Factors