Pilots do the stupidest things

(FYI - I’m posting this to the public forum to garner the widest readership.)

PEOPLE, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

My daughter and I almost died in my SR20 this afternoon! A near mid-air collision that added a pile of grey hair to several pilots’ heads…

Now that I have your attention, here’s the story: Wife and son were off at a mother/son cubscout camping event for the weekend, so daughter and I loaded into N508JS and took off to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial at FFA. The trip out was wonderful - 180 kts over the ground at 75% power at 5500 ft MSL due to the excellent tailwind. Had a good time at the site, esp. wondering how unique flight must have been at the time for such short powered flights to be so astounding at the time!

After a couple of hours walking around (see pic below), we loaded up to leave. FFA was using runway 20, which has RIGHT traffic. We announced backtaxi, then that we were clear of 20 in the runup area. While I was doing the take-off checks, a couple of planes landed. There were several more inbounds entering the pattern (and making position reports on the CTAF), but when I called ready at the end, two fellows politely offered to slow down to let me out before landing. So, after checking where the two planes were in the pattern, taking a look down the approach end of 20, and announcing we were taking the active for departure, we took the active and launched. Just as I rotated, my windshield was full of the ass end of a twin-engine airplane! He was flying down 20 over me! I pulled up hard and rolled left - towards open sky (lots of trees to the right) because I (a) assumed he was trying to land and (b) had already committed to flying so there was no way to land and stop in the remaining runway, esp. if he was on it. We flew by the monument at MAYBE 200 ft AGL (lower than the top of the tower, according to my daughter - she couldn’t see down onto the top and it was on her side). At the same time the Cessna pilot on the right downwind started yelling that the twin had come in from low over the ocean straight into the runway, totally ignoring the pattern and the other traffic. And, the twin wasn’t on the CTAF freq. either - or at least refused to respond to repeated calls. Then the cessna pilot started cussing a blue streak at the pilot of the twin. The twin evidently had seen me taking off and aborted his landing, rolling first to the right (away from me) and then doing a 360 back across the runway and into a LEFT base/final for 20, right at the cessna pilot, who had to dive and roll out to miss him as well. So, this guy almost took us out, then almost took out a C182! My daughter estimates our horizontal sep from the twin was nill (we were directly under him) and our vertical sep got down to maybe 20 ft before I rolled left. As we headed for Dare Co. for fuel (and to change my pants), I talked to the Cessna pilot. He intended to confront the twin pilot, get his tail number, and offered to give me a call later with the story.

I’m not really sure who is technically at fault here, but I’m blaming me mostly, for a faulty scan prior to take-off. FFA is a class G airport, so NORDO is acceptable. I didn’t see the twin on final, but neither did the other traffic in the pattern. Planes should fly a regular pattern at uncontrolled fields, but there is no regulation that requires it (only the DIRECTION of turns is specified in the regs, not how many or where to make them).

So, folks, be careful out there! Look once, then look again. Then, like a good obssesive/compulsive, look again!

glad to hear you’re OK. having spent time along the coast i’m constantly amazed what GA pilots do along the shoreline.

Bill,

GLAD YOU’RE SAFE!

From your description, it sounds to me as though you might not have been able to see this idiot at all no matter how carefully you looked – for all anyone knows he was boring in at 50’ AGL from a mile away. At any rate, I hope that the Cessna pilot does get his tail number, and that the FAA nails him - he’s a menace, that’s for sure. I suggest you file an ASRS (NASA) form, because it’s the type of experience that people need to hear about. (FWIW, I don’t believe that the twin pilot is entitled to any of the usual ASRS “immunity”, because he did cause real danger to other air traffic).

WRT all the recent debate on the Members Discussion forum about the value of a TCAD system, this sounds like the type of sitation where it may actually have helped (assuming, of course, that the bull-in-a-chinashop pilot even had his transponder on).

Again… GLAD YOU’RE SAFE… sounds to me as though you and the 182 pilot did a fine job of self-preservation.

Your photos are cool, too - I have some similar ones from a similar - but fortunately less exciting - visit to FFA. The guy in the photo is my friend Jon Gilbert.

Bill,

Glad that you made it in one piece. This place can get down right brutal on a sunny weekend day…I used to have a house north of Duck and got down here a lot…your pics took me back to some good memories…I have included two pics…one was taken in my Skylane about 10 years ago, the other of the Cirrus last year…not much difference in the background except for some digging around the monument…I do love the Outer Banks!!..but FFA can get very crazy!

Bill, et al,
It took me a couple of days to get to fly my plane after your post but I wanted to see if I could activate Skywatch on the ground.
The answer is yes.
Even though the Garmins are set not to go off before we achieve 35 knots, you can activate them through the MFD.
All you have to do is tto go to the switch on the Adidyme MFD, which says Skywatch. It will not indicate the setting you left it on at shutdown (normal, above, etc), it will say standby. Just push the button a few times on the MFD to shift from standby to any setting you want and the MFD will come alive and the Garmins will cycle into Skywatch mode too.
Presto.

In reply to:


WRT all the recent debate on the Members Discussion forum about the value of a TCAD system, this sounds like the type of sitation where it may actually have helped (assuming, of course, that the bull-in-a-chinashop pilot even had his transponder on).


Don’t most of the TCAD systems not turn on when on the ground (triggered by an airswitch in the pitot line)? So, in this case Bill’s TCAD system (if he’d had one), wouldn’t have gone off until he was already well on his takeoff roll…

Bill, glad to hear your PIREP instead of reading an accident report! Wow!

As for Mike’s comment,

In reply to:


WRT all the recent debate on the Members Discussion forum about the value of a TCAD system, this sounds like the type of sitation where it may actually have helped (assuming, of course, that the bull-in-a-chinashop pilot even had his transponder on).


Here is what is likely to have happened with my SKYWATCH in the scenario that Bill described. I do not have the option of turning on the system on the ground (I recall being able to do that before a Garmin 2.3 to 2.5 software upgrade, so I wonder if software controls the standby/operational mode?).

At the runup area, my SKYWATCH is in standby. Just about rotation speed, it activates and I’ll soon get a TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC! alert from nearby airplanes with transponders on. Almost always happens with planes in the runup area or taxing after landing. I suspect the timing of this is dependent on the cycle time to ping and receive transponder codes from nearby aircraft.

Anyway, the threats are in yellow and pretty obvious at a glance. However, you would have to glance away from the view down the runway. DANGER!!

Those yellow targets that are on the ground will appear with negative altitude differntials – I ignore those. However, those above me have positive differentials and are often positioned on crosswind or downwind locations. Or are commonly helicopters doing their own thing. Generally, at uncontrolled fields, I have been listening to position reports of those in the pattern and can discard those that I see “in the right places” while I can ask my passengers for help with those that aren’t! This has happened numerous times but always been due to benign targets doing what they should be doing.

Did I say this takes only seconds? And at a most busy and critical piloting time? Yikes!

In Bill’s scenario and my current SKYWATCH configuration, I doubt that you would get much advance warning from SKYWATCH for that twin Cessna. And it is likely that the traffic alert would either be ignored or distracting enough to interrupt my aviate, navigate, communicate priorities!

Now, if someone can verify that the SKYWATCH standby/operational mode is under software control and that the Garmin software used to allow SKYWATCH operation on the ground, then we can press for a software revision to get it back. Bill’s scenario makes we want it really badly now!

Cheers
Rick

In reply to:


Don’t most of the TCAD systems not turn on when on the ground (triggered by an airswitch in the pitot line)? So, in this case Bill’s TCAD system (if he’d had one), wouldn’t have gone off until he was already well on his takeoff roll…


Steve,
D’oh! I do believe you’re right. This incident makes me want to have that airswitch disabled when I get mine…

  • Mike.

In reply to:


Don’t most of the TCAD systems not turn on when on the ground (triggered by an airswitch in the pitot line)?


Skywatch has another incredible feature Steve:
it can be turned on manually as well, wow!!
That’s a pretty good idea to do so on strips like this; it’s your choice to do so or not.

Assuming that b*#?head had his transponder on, this is Skywatch’s call, since TIS would not have picked him up, no way.

Anyway happy about the outcome [:)] !

Take care

wilfried

In reply to:


This incident makes me want to have that airswitch disabled when I get mine…


not really disabled, but hooked up to the hobbs instead!!!
and Skywatch hooked to the flaps switch, i.e. 100% flaps = Skywatch STBY, 50%or 0% flaps = Skywatch OPER;

this setup would give you traffic information when desired, like preparing for and being on take-off, but disabling it when distracting, like being on final;
going around -> flaps 50 and you’re on-line again.

plus you’ll get actual flight time on the hobbs for free.

just one idea

wilfried

In reply to:


not really disabled, but hooked up to the hobbs instead!!!.. plus you’ll get actual flight time on the hobbs for free.


Wilfried,
Unfortunately, that’s not straightforward, due to a technicality. The airswitch in question is a Normally CLOSED airswitch, that grounds a pin on the SkyWatch unit when the airspeed is below a set point. In order to use that same switch to work the Hobbs (and switch it on when the airspeed builds, as opposed to switching it off!), you’d need to add a relay – cumbersome and expensive. Much easier if you could persuade someone to sell you the Normally OPEN version of the same switch. (Cirrus won’t, since they don’t use that version of the switch anywhere). I know about this because I added a separate Flight Time Hobbs - see below:

 Note the "N/C" in the switch part number
   -- that's the *wrong*, Normally Closed, version of the switch in the photo

In reply to:


…and Skywatch hooked to the flaps switch, i.e. 100% flaps = Skywatch STBY, 50%or 0% flaps = Skywatch OPER; …
this setup would give you traffic information when desired, like preparing for and being on take-off, but disabling it when distracting, like being on final;
going around -> flaps 50 and you’re on-line again.


I don’t know about the technicalities of this one – I’d have to study the wiring diagrams, which I doubt have enough detail to really figure it out anyway. But… isn’t there a simpler way? My avionics guy told me that it’s easy enough to simply put the existing MUTE function on a manual switch placed in some convenient but unobtrusive spot - INSTEAD OF the present airswitch. He said that since the TCAD is optional to begin with, there are no regulatory constraints with doing so. Plus you’d have more flexibility - if you want to have TCAD available on final approach, you can.

In reply to:


just one idea…


Wasn’t that two? [;)] Both very creative, by the way.

In reply to:


you’d need to add a relay


…there is already one there for the hobbs, just use that; though you’d need to remove all wiring to it coming from ALT&BAT switches;
this is pretty straightforward

In reply to:


I don’t know about the technicalities of this one – I’d have to study the wiring diagrams, which I doubt have enough detail to really figure it out anyway.


… there are 3 possible inputs for this (at least):

  • weight on wheels -> used by the mentioned airspeed switch, turns the unit from STBY to OPER or vice-versa
  • landing gear position -> not used, sets a lower sensitivity level for TAs and mutes audio
  • audio inhibit -> not used, intentioned to mute audio in case of a GPWS warning

In reply to:


But… isn’t there a simpler way? My avionics guy told me that it’s easy enough to simply put the existing MUTE function on a manual switch placed in some convenient but unobtrusive spot - INSTEAD OF the present airswitch. He said that since the TCAD is optional to begin with, there are no regulatory constraints with doing so. Plus you’d have more flexibility - if you want to have TCAD available on final approach, you can.


… well one more switch to take care of, is that simpler ?
Don’t mix two different functions here: one is MUTING, the other is switching STBY/OPER (see above)

Now my setup would be (not necessarily simpler) a manual switch for STBY/OPER on the mentioned convenient spot and a hookup of the flaps switch to the landing gear position connector; this gives you automatic muting AND reduced sensitivity with flaps down (either half or full, your choice) plus manual control on the operating status.

Just a couple of more ideas… [H]

… and no clue on any regulatory issues if doing so [:P].

wilfried

In reply to:


I do not have the option of turning on the system on the ground (I recall being able to do that before a Garmin 2.3 to 2.5 software upgrade, so I wonder if software controls the standby/operational mode?).


… dunno about 2.3 and 2.5 ; don’t you mean 2.23 and 2.25 ? Cirrus once recommended not to install 2.26 if I remember correct !!!

In reply to:


Now, if someone can verify that the SKYWATCH standby/operational mode is under software control and that the Garmin software used to allow SKYWATCH operation on the ground, then we can press for a software revision to get it back.


… no need for that, it’s definitely working with version 3.0 (!) which is out since March 2003 (or longer);
BUT from the #1 430 ONLY!!! In this case the #2 is literally secondary;

Also using the function of the “landing gear position” connector for reduced sensitivity would be very handy here, too (see my other post).

wilfried

What a great place for a picture!!

Paul,

I hope you don’t mind, but I took you’re photo and ran it through some color correction software. Here it is.

never a problem!