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 taxiing in the Cessna 152 from self-serve fuel down Taxiway X to Runway XXR for departure.
After run-up I was advised to switch to Tower and did so, and continued the taxi to the runway hold short bars.
I called up Tower and said I was coming up on XXR and ready to go.
Tower responded promptly with instructions to take off on Runway XXL.
Although I was anticipating XXR for takeoff, being told to take off XXL was not out of the usual as I have received similar instructions prior to this event, where I have to cross the closer runway to depart off the left.
When I was given this instruction, I very explicitly mentioned the left two times on my reply call to avoid any mistakes, but also for myself as an out-loud reminder that I was now departing off the LEFT and not the original runway I had been planning for. I said “Ok, continuing to XX LEFT, and XX LEFT cleared for takeoff, Aircraft X.”
As I crossed the hold short and finished my final checks — “Lights, Camera, Action, Finals Clear” — I looked left and immediately noticed another Cessna on a short final for XXR, while at the same time braking quickly and coming to a stop while the frequency also went crazy with blocked transmissions (assuming everyone chiming in to prevent a possible incursion or accident).
Although I had begun crossing the hold short, I did not enter the actual pavement surface of the runway and the other Cessna executed a safe go-around.
At that point I asked Tower what they wanted me to do, and they instructed me to 180 U turn and hold short XXR, which I complied with and was then cleared for takeoff from XXR.
There had been a student pilot holding short opposite at XXL and it’s possible Tower thought that is who called for takeoff.
I am always diligent with my final checks before taking a runway and departing, and I think my final look left before fully entering the runway is what prevented this from being more serious.
From now on I will make sure to have a more “big picture” understanding before rolling for takeoff — I was thinking why did I not see him on my ADS-B and I realized because both my GPS units were zoomed in to airport taxi diagrams.
I always cock the airplane sideways when holding short due to the high wing not allowing you to see any aircraft on final, but as I had been on a slow roll already when I was cleared for takeoff I did not get to see final until that final moment.
A nice wake-up call to always take it slow, and verify everything, and have that big picture situational awareness.
Primary Problem: Procedure