(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!