Am I screwed?


So long story short I almost landed at the wrong airport. I was heading for an uncontrolled airport right next to a controlled airport with similar runway headings. The uncontrolled airport was sandwiched between two hills and I couldn’t see it from my lower altitude. Stupid, rookie mistake that I shouldn’t have made. Anyway I was on flight following, talking to the approach frequency. They cleared me through the controlled airport’s delta airspace and instructed me to report the uncontrolled airport in sight. Seeing the controlled airport, I reported the uncontrolled airport in sight. Approach switched me to the uncontrolled airports CTAF and I planned on joining the pattern upwind by overflying the field and checking the windsock, then turning left crosswind and joining the pattern. I descended down to about 1,000 agl on a slightly long final before I realized I was on final for the wrong airport. This whole time I was announcing my position on the uncontrolled airports CTAF. After realizing my mistake, I promptly throttled up, climbed, cleared the approach path of this airport, contacted approach, and requested vectors to the uncontrolled airport. Luckily, no one was taking off, landing, or in the pattern at the controlled airport.

Since I was cleared through the delta, I can’t think of any specific regulation I violated. However, I doubt I’m getting off Scot free for being on final approach to a major controlled airport with no entry instructions and not talking to their tower. What kind of action is likely against my certificate?


I would say more than likely if there was a concern, approach would have relayed a message requesting a phone call after you landed. If you are still concerned, you can always confess and fill out the NASA ASRS form. Just remember, however, you only have 10 days (I believe?) from the offense to submit the form.

Everyone makes bone-head mistakes along the way - its all a part of the learning process. Recognizing your error early enough to avoid a mishap is the important part. One of the best statements I have ever heard has to do with having a big bucket of luck when you learn to fly and an empty bucket of experience. As you go through the years, your luck bucket continuously empties out, so you had better be able to rely on experience to stay safe.


Will I get in trouble for filling out that form if they hadn’t planned on any action earlier?


In order to encourage people to be open and honest for accurate safety reporting, NASA got the FAA to provide immunity to pilots for infractions if they confessed via the form. In response to your question, no, they cannot come after you if you file the form and they didn’t realize the infraction themselves. However…if the form is not filed within the allowed timeframe your immunity is gone. Also, I believe you are limited on how many get out of jail free cards you get through NASA, so it may be best to save it for the future.

Not sure if you are a member of AOPA, but they run a column monthly in their magazine dealing with FAA infractions. They also have lawyers who deal only with aviation issues that would likely give you the best advise on what to do (for a fee, of course)


If you did not get the dreaded ‘call the tower’ radio call from approach, I would say you are ok. As for the NASA form, the so called immunity depends on how serious the FAA believes the infraction was. For example the NASA form will not save you if the issue is loss of separation between two IFR aircraft due to ones busting an assigned altitude. The form is available on the internet. Good luck.


If ATC didn’t ask you to call a number you are ok.

I have almost landed a jet at the Air Force base in Tuscon and didn’t have any problems :blush:


You might contact AOPA?


If the tower or approach wanted to violate you, they would have told you.


Pilot Deviation Notification


When it appears that the actions of a pilot constitute a pilot deviation, notify the pilot, workload permitting.

(Identification) POSSIBLE PILOT DEVIATION ADVISE YOU CONTACT (facility) AT (telephone number).

FAAO 8020.11, Aircraft Accident and Incident Notification, Investigation, and Reporting, Para 84, Pilot Deviations.


Alright, well I’d rather not use my get out of jail free card yet. My landing light wasn’t on and my flaps weren’t pulled, so maybe the controllers thought I was coming down for a closer look.


I concur with the general consenus… you’re not going to get “called.”

Although, the NASA form is not a one time bullet. I know a pilot that submits them as regularly as once to several times a month for his various flights.

And your anonymity is protected. They cannot divulge the name of the pilot submitting the form without your consent. When you submit the form you are mailed a number. That number links you to your form, and only you posses the portion with your name AND the number.

If it were me, I’d submit the NASA. If anything, it allows you to really decipher and articulate the various factors of why and how the “near incident” came about for your own learning. Just IMHO…


Of ATC knew that the chode sitting next to you had on eppliets you’d be violated for sure!! :smiley:


Lolzilla. Wasn’t flying with him this time.