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.
After picking up my load of jumpers for the day, I announced over CTAF that I was taxiing from the North hangars to Runway XX. While taxiing, I noted the windsock and the weather broadcasting system indicated a direct crosswind out of 090. I knew the wind had been favoring Runway XX through the day and continued the long taxi to XX instead of taking runway XY. After finishing my before-takeoff-flow, I announced a departure from XX with jumpers. I checked XX’s final approach and the runway for traffic.
Once we lifted off, I wiggled my butt in the seat, climbed out at Vy, and watched for my landing options should an emergency occur (as I always do in any plane). While on the ground and takeoff roll, I did not specifically look for traffic coming into Runway XY. And I cannot see over the aircraft nose during initial climb out.
As I climbed through approximately 300-400 feet AGL, movement caught my eye and I saw a Cessna 172 in the right bank under me, turning to the west. I recognized the rental aircraft from the FBO and called the tail number over the radio “are you on the radio?” No response.
I double checked that I was on the CTAF. I was. As I climbed up and around the airport, I heard the 172 call final for XX, watched as they did a touch and go, and then as they turned into right traffic (not standard) for Runway XX.
After completing the jump run and starting my descent back to the airport, I called the UNICOM for a radio check. The person in the FBO said I was loud and clear and that they had heard all my radio calls. On the ground, witnesses in the FBO said they did not hear the 172s radio calls, but did hear mine.
When I first saw the aircraft pass under me, I thought they had been on a left base. Witnesses on the ground said they had been on final and had turned to avoid me.
When I talked to the pilot of the 172, they did not describe how the near miss happened from their perspective. They only discussed the radio communication/lack thereof. They said their headset was new and that they had made 5 and 2 mile radio calls. They also said they entered on a left base, not on a left downwind when entering the pattern.
They downplayed the situation and said that “we weren’t that close, maybe 200,” implying that it was fine.
They said they didn’t hear any of my radio calls. I asked if they were on the right frequency. They said they were. They had just come from another airport where they had dealt with a flat tire and they heard the radio calls clearly.
In retrospect, having noted the direct crosswind and the possibility for use of either runway, I should have intentionally looked for traffic in the pattern for the other runway. I should always do that, regardless of the winds.
I cannot know if I heard the complete truth from the 172 pilot. Perhaps they were not using push-to-talk when they thought they were. Perhaps the long day waiting for a tire change had made them frazzled.
Primary Problem: Human Factors