By Steve Krog, EAA 173799.
This piece originally ran in Steve’s Classic Instructor column in the September 2023 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
An acquaintance from Hartford stopped at the hangar recently. Perplexed with blood pressure rising, he confided that while heading back to Hartford Municipal Airport (HXF) from central Illinois, he observed an airplane several miles to the left off his wing flying at approximately the same altitude.
It appeared to be on a potential collision course. Seeing that it was a modern production aircraft most likely equipped with a full glass panel including ADS-B, he closely observed it to see what, if any, action the pilot might take to prevent a potential collision.
Seconds ticked by while he kept eyeing the approaching aircraft. It didn’t appear the pilot was aware of my friend’s airplane even though it had ADS-B Out. When it seemed the airplane was about to overtake my friend, he took evasive action to establish safe separation.
While doing so, he was able to catch a glimpse of the cockpit occupants. Neither of them looked up, and it appeared they were completely oblivious of my friend and his airplane.
Several days later, I had the opportunity to meet with our FAA safety inspector and asked if he was experiencing situations such as this. He rolled his eyes and said the FAA was getting reports of this nature, including numerous ones of incursions both on the ground and in and around the airspace.
In Wisconsin alone, we had two or three reported incursions last fiscal year to date. This year for the same period, we’ve had more than 50 reported incursions requiring investigation.
Some of the reported incidents include runway incursions, landing on the wrong runway, taking off on the wrong runway, landing at the wrong airport, and flying through Class C and D airspace without talking to anyone. Each of these situations could lead to a serious outcome.