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I would like to know if i made a major mistake, broke a law or if my instructor is angry with me.

the story;

i was flying a cross country to a location and halfway through i got flight following as it was a bit windy and i didn't want to get lost. they repeated my destination back to me so there was no mixup. after over an hour of flying my estimation was i was about 10 mins until my destination when flight following told me "XXXXX the airport is at your 12 o'clock 2 miles, do you have it?" I looked out and saw the airport where they said it would be an landed. it was the wrong airport. it was an abandoned class C. i figured out my mistake and got back in, this airport was exaclty along my route of flight and i didn't even think of questioning ATC. I made the mistake of assuming they never make mistakes. anyway, after that it was mostly uneventful.

A week later (today) my instructor texts me and says "schedule an hour, we need to sit down and talk about your last cross country, specifically the leg to XXXX"

is he angry? did i break any laws? albeit was a stupid mistake to land at the wrong airport, but it was on the route of flight and i trusted ATC when they told me it was right there (there was some kind of haze or something, it wasn't the best day)

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5 Answers



  1. gustyk on Dec 31, 2016

    Full disclosure , I’m not a CFI and like you, I did things I now know were wrong. You are not alone.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/07/09/delta-passenger-plane-lands-at-the-wrong-airport.html

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  2. Best Answer


    Mark Kolber on Dec 31, 2016

    Let’s see…

    On my first solo cross country, I got completely lost on the way to my first airport. Despite how late I was, I didn’t update my flight plan. Sure enough, as I approached my second airport, a towered one, my radios went bad, so I messed around in the air a bit fiddling with the wires, and then, finally, realizing how late I was – HOURS on my flight planed ETA – headed to another airport, one I was not signed off for.

    After shutting down, I ran to the FBO to call Flight Service to let them know I was OK. As I ran in, the guy behind the counter looked at me and, before I could open my mouth, said, “I’ll call Flight Service. You call your instructor. NOW!” I was obviously already being looked for.

    If mine didn’t kill me when I got home, I’m pretty confident your instructor isn’t angry. Just a good debriefing and ground session to discuss errors and how to avoid them in the future.

    So, what were the two airports? The one you wanted to go to and the one you landed at?

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  3. neil137 on Dec 31, 2016

    i was headed to DLZ and they “radar terminated me” several miles early, definitely and error on their part, but maybe i should’ve caught it

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  4. Mark Kolber on Dec 31, 2016

    I’m not familiar with the area so this is mostly out of curiosity. What was the “abandoned Class C?” I’m trying to get a picture of the error. I know that sometimes airports are so close and configured so similarly that one has to be very careful of errors. There are two airports I’m familiar with in North Carolina. They are 6 NM apart and a long final to the runway on one lines up perfectly with short final on the other. Very simple to make the mistake if not paying attention.

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  5. Roger on Jan 02, 2017

    First of all, you are not in trouble. You made a mistake. People make mistakes all the time; that’s why they put erasers on pencils.

    Secondly, as a student pilot – always tell ATC that you are a student pilot. Perhaps you did; if not – do it in the future. Don’t be embarrassed by that. Every single pilot out there was a student at some point. It helps ATC to know and they will go out of their way to help you then.

    Third, don’t blame ATC. Perhaps you misunderstood them when they said “12 o’clock and 2 miles”. Was it “one two” miles? Or something else? It’s always the PIC’s responsibility. But don’t beat yourself up over it either (go back to the first paragraph).

    Finally, both you AND YOUR INSTRUCTOR should file NASA reports on this mistake. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to file these reports AND it will ensure that NOBODY gets in trouble, since the error was unintentional.

    Keep up the good work!

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