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.
Approaching from the north to land at Southern West Virginia Regional Airport (KEBD). Made customary radio calls at 10 miles, 5 miles and 2 miles, landing lights on.
Flew a tight left downwind to Runway 08 to observe windsock (no AWOS) and observed Aircraft Y departing on the taxiway parallel to Runway 08.
Called again for downwind entry to Runway 08, but no response from Aircraft Y, which was now behind me in blind spot.
Called base turn and final to Runway 08, again no response from Aircraft Y, so by now I assumed he was NORDO and had departed the area.
As I was rolling out on the landing, I see Aircraft Y making a very tight turn near the approach to Runway 26 and line up to land Runway 26!
By now I was on ground and rolling out, so I expedited rollout to make the taxiway turnoff (there is only one) and avoid potential collision.
I calmly spoke with the Aircraft Y pilot afterwards. He confirmed he saw me in the pattern. He was unconcerned about a conflict because he “assumed I would make the taxiway turnoff.”
Note that the single turnoff is approximately 1,500 feet from the Runway 26 threshold, which is ample for a well flown Aircraft Y, but leaves no margin for error when aircraft are head on.
He was completely complacent about the situation, which was quite disappointing.
Classic dangerous pilot attitude!
As for corrective action, I think we are well past the time that it is acceptable for aircraft to fly without a radio. And be required to use it.
Primary Problem: Human Factors
Ed Montaigne says
I flew for over 30 yrs before guy t-boned mein the drivers door and left me with heart and brain damage. I have successfully landed and departed farm fields, dirt roads, hard packed sand on a island beach, grass strips, 2 lane and 4 lane roads (with law enforcement blocking traffic), taxiways (as directed by atc at a very busy major airport with heavy airline traffic) as well as controlled and uncontrolled airports. I once took a lightning srrike that wiped out all electronics on my PA32. I reached into my flight bag and grabbed my aviation HT, called ATC and had them vector me in for a safe ending to a harrowing flight that scared the begebees out of our friends that flew with my family and me for a fun weekend at a Florida beach.
I have experienced similar scenarios as described in the article, but avoided the dangerous situation due to the “expect anything” training I received as a young pilot. As for the pilot in aircraft Y…well, you can’t fix stupid. As for the pilot of aircraft X…keep your head on a swivel and expect anything and everything.
He needs one, for sure.
Darwinism may well take care of it.
Sounds like a cowboy flyer. always bad. But in this case a radio would not make a difference. He would do the same. Uncontrolled airports don’t require radios. Use your eyes!
Some pilot says
Yup, agreed. More detail in the article would be helpful, like how far “Aircraft Y” was off the end of Runway 26 when he was head-to-head with him.
Also: I measured–the taxiway turnoff is 1800 feet from the end, not 1500.
Nate D'Anna says
Whatever happened to the premise that the landing aircraft has the right of way?
Additionally, there is no excuse for a pilot to not have at minimum a handheld radio.
They are inexpensive relative to the cost of operating an airplane, while reliable and compact. They are also a great backup in the event of an electrical failure rendering the avionics stack inoperable. I had a failure such as this many years ago and used my handheld for perfect communication with the tower while inbound to my home field. I even had a separate com antenna mounted to the airplane with a cable coming into the cabin with a connector to attach to the handheld. This installation made the handheld even more efficient. Reliable? Heck yeah. I purchased an Icom IC-A20 in the early 1970s and it’s still going strong. Don’t leave home without one.
Greg M says
Fly as if no one has radio communication at an uncontrolled airport. Look, see, and be seen. Has this FAA procedure changed?
This just proves we have turned into a video game mentality with our headphones on, microphones ready, iPads showing us a screen. Eyeballs out VFR rules is simply not a thing that people are lifting as a standard, even though it is the law. Author did the “I called 10 miles out, so I own the airport” sort of thinking. Admitted he had a plane in a blind spot and then did nothing. Assumed without facts that the plane had departed the area. Both pilots were complacent. With non-towered airports, assume nothing, learn to adjust to others out of politeness, if nothing else. Nothing wrong with departing the pattern and waiting to see what is happening. Sad to think we share the air with both personality types.
I think you need to reread the description again. Granted we are only getting one side.
First, Y took off from a taxiway. Who does that when there is a perfectly good runway next to you?
Second, It can be near impossible to see an airplane with no lights in the best on conditions. This is one of the factors of why running lights are mandated for cars even thought they are easier to see and have a more predictable path. In the air lights save lives and the electric bill is zero. Yes I understand there are no electric airplanes which means you should do things in a predictable manner. PS Non electrical airplanes are allowed to carried portable radios.
Third, the only reason I can see why plane Y acted the way he did is, He was practicing the impossible turn. With a plane landing in the opposite direction???
I have to agree with Michael A Crognale and disagree with you.
I fly a non-electrical airplane, yes, with a handheld. Both pilots were needing to adjust attitudes, especially the Y plane who I agree was flying as an outlaw here, at least as described. Y is an accident waiting to happen, I agree. But this is an uncontrolled field, so you have to be on your toes and not expect things to happen the way you think they should. That is the lesson here. VFR means your eyeballs first with radio as a backup. I’ve learned several times over the past 40 years that a radio doesn’t save you from people whose eyeballs are locked down on a screen. Lights on doesn’t seem to make a difference, it helps but then again, you shouldn’t trust that your lights are going to make it safe.
MICHAEL A CROGNALE says
The pilot of the NORDO airplane, “Y” exhibits the worst of the characteristics CFIs are taught to look for. His arrogance in assuming that the runway HE selected would be clear for HIS use was dangerous beyond belief. He took off from a taxiway. 1st strike. He said that he SAW the other airplane using the opposite direction runway but his arrogance and conceit did not allow him to make a pattern for that runway. 2nd Strike. The aforementioned landing into the face of oncoming traffic could have been fatal. 3rd strike. This guy deserves a 709 ride.
Darrell Hay says
Two ramp checks.
I don’t see a problem. Aircraft use established patterns all the time with no radios (esp gliders and ultralights) and have for years. This reminds me of the young drivers that won’t drive in a car without anti-lock brakes. Yeah both are great and all, but not required in all situations.
Mitch Darnell says
I’ve had a couple of ramp checks in my time. All they did was look at the aircraft records and my license and medical material and log book. They didn’t look at the aircraft in a walk around or inside the aircraft to my knowledge. Of course you could see all the antennas sticking out on top and bottom. I don’t know if one didn’t have any antenna they would do anything as I think it is still legal to fly without radios with certain restrictions. If winds are calm is it mandatory that a pilot has to use a specific runway at their home air port? I don’t fly any more due to a pacemaker, so I may be out of touch.
Wylbur Wrong says
In 20+ years of flying, I’ve never had a ramp check. I wonder if it is time to do a survey to see how many ramp checks are done, and/or how many have been ramp checked and at what type of airport, towered or non-towered. Mixed traffic (rotor wing, jumpers, with fixed wing, Jets mixed with piston, etc.).
Ken Y says
What does being ramp checked have to do with the situation presented?
Mike Crawford says
Great question. I was wondering about that, myself.
Warren Webb Jr says
Must have been some temporary glitch with the link to another article.
Wylbur Wrong says
No not a computer glitch. Suppose that a FSDO person was there and saw problems that are being “discussed” here in GA News? Think they would have gotten the tail number, aircraft type, etc. and if they couldn’t speak to that pilot on the airport, they probably would have sent them some kind of notice?
And if they could have a chat with the pilot, and the pilot had the wrong attitude, they may have issued an invitation to a 709 ride.
Not that I want to have the FAA Cops out writing tickets, but maybe they do need to pay attention to GA operations now and then?
scott k patterson says
In my 46 years of flying I’ve never had a ramp check. And if I had it wouldn’t have changed a thing, other than perhaps some indifferent technicality.
Jean janvier says
I think some pilots lost their cool when dealing with a dangerous situation like that. I would like to suggest to the pilot to aware of mistakes the can correct to avoid a fatal accident. I would like to see airplane equipped with honk like a car honk the other airplane to prevent tragedy.
Paul A. says
This never should have happened. A near miss simply to save time instead of going around is unacceptable. Aircraft Y is wrong here, he should have listened to the radio and realised that you were about to land! Aircraft Y should have, instead of saving time, done you a favour by going around, instead of hoping that you will make a turnoff!