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Your biggest ever mistake

Peter, would it be an idea to move this thread to an earlier one:
Forums ? Flying : Lessons Learned
I wanted to do some confessions but recalled i did them before..

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

There have been few over the past 30 years….about 1 every 1000hrs or so it seems..

1st stupid mistake.
Taking off from Grimbergen, 30c and 4 up with tents etc. in an PA28 Archer, realised on 1st attempt that runway wasnt long enough so
went back to end of the runway, pushed aircraft right back to the bushes and had another go, luckily at the time there was a gap in the trees!!

2nd stupid mistake.
Farm strip, dropped out of the bottom of a cloud at 900ft on a GPS position, found strip dropped in over the trees. Once on ground realised that
trees were about 80ft high and wind straight across the 600m grass runway, so had to think how to get out.
This was in a Bonanza so plenty of power, but those trees were getting bigger the furthur one got down the runway, lifted off, gear up, VX and
probably cleared by about 5ft….didnt sleep for 2 days thinking about it.

3rd stupid mistake.
Had some work done on at an avionics shop, never excercised the trim until airborn. Took off into a 200ft cloud base and then realised that the
trim wheel was jammed solid and had to hold a big push forward to keep straight and level. Declared emergency and got vectored to the ILS at a local airport and had to fly the ILS with about 40lbs pressure on the stick to minimums.

4th stupid mistake, not entirely my fault..
Power checks complete at end of runway (occassional motor racing circuit in sth of England, midweek) and remembering instructors words ‘use all the runway you can get’, there was perhaps another 70 ft of tarmac beyond the undefined runway end, no white or yellow lines, no boards, nothing.
It was clear both ways and from memory in the middle of a bend. This seemed like a good runway extension, or was it part of the runway or maybe an access road?
As luck would have it I had 2nd thoughts and lined up where I was and as I was lined up ready to go 3 racing cars came screaming around the corner….that would have been one hell of a prang. ATC didnt seem concerned when I told them, maybe it happened all the time?

My biggest mistake was rushing a departure. We were enroute to Biggin Hill in a Cherokee Six with family and friends on board. Just after coasting out from France one of the pax called a sanitary emergency.No, it could not wait until Biggin and disaster was imminent. We diverted to Manston and pax was able to do his thing – just in time.

So far so good. Irritated by the diversion and subsequent delay and knowing that it was only 20 minutes flying I rushed my departure checks which was bad enough, but inexcusably I fluffed my pre-landing checks. As we pulled off the runway at Biggin the engine stopped briefly – until I realised the error of my ways and switched tanks. I had run one tank dry. Two minutes earlier we would have been on short final and the outcome could have been very different.

EHLE / Lelystad, Netherlands, Netherlands

My biggest mistake? Not to become a dentist (or other highly paid profession) that allows me to fly for fun Instead, the alarm clock will ring again at four O’clock tomorrow morning…

And flying mistakes? Difficult to say which one was the biggest of them, since all had their lucky outcome.

EDDS - Stuttgart

My biggest mistake? Not to become a dentist

I must laugh …
Before 9-11 when cockpit tourism in flight was still allowed and seen as a means of PR a lot of young boys visiting the cockpit with their parents told me they also liked to become a pilot …
the parents were always a little bit consternated when I used to give them advice to better become a dentist and being able to buy their own plane, because then they could choose where to fly, at what time and not being obliged to fly the airline’s monthly roster …

Last Edited by nobbi at 23 Mar 19:58
EDxx, Germany

Peter if not having Pitot Heat on in an SEP was your biggest mistake you are on the road to aviation sainthood

quatrelle your confessional is more what I had in mind.

Faithful to the statistics that suggest over confidence at 300-400 hours TT is a danger zone, my effort at a Darwin Award included pressing on into IMC in a 172 in the Rockies, also in a 1957 Apache (on this occasion my passenger commenting the sheep on the hills were scattering) again pressing on VMC into IMC.

Today I either file airways, or fly VFR with healthy VFR margins – if you have time to spare, travel by air is my preferred GA motto.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)

“on this occasion my passenger commenting the sheep on the hills were scattering”

Made me laugh :). Thanks.

I only have 170 hours in my book, so fewer chances of big mistakes, but I have flown for some while on one flight in my TB20 wondering why the speed wouldn’t build and later realised that the gear was still down (of course), and more importantly I have made two approaches of note (out of say 350) where I should definitely have gone around instead of “saving” the landing at some risk, not being stable until right at the flare. I regret the ego involved in those two landings and both should have been aborted at about 300 feet. I want to read this post and learn!


Flying a TB20 out of EGTR
Elstree (EGTR), United Kingdom

My stupidest mistake occurred shortly after I got an aircraft of my own and started to fly out of LKBU. On an easy non-radio VFR bimble, I managed to bust the Prague CTR due to the GNS 430 being inadvertently switched into declutter mode. I mistook the CTR boundary for the outlying TMA one and thought I was staying below. I realised my mistake on the way back, when I had already managed to bust it not once but twice, in both directions! My transponder was mode S, so the Prague ATC knew my identity all the while. Upon my return, our FISO had already had a message for me urging me to contact Prague on the phone. Fortunately, a profuse apology sufficed. Lesson learned, apart from the obvious need for paying more attention – never fly non-radio if you can help it, the ATC may have something useful to tell you.

LKBU near Prague, Czech Republic

Doing mental fuel calcs and ASSUMING we had FULL fuel when in ACTUAL fact fuel was to TABS. Then carrying out a longish cross country flight, forgetting to include the hr of circuits (at intermediate stop) in my mental fuel calcs, then the weather turning shite and going home IFR, then another aeroplane with an “emergency” lead to vectoring for half an hour, and finally the engine splutting and missing on the ILS. Luckily there must have been just enough in the other tank…….the last hole in the swiss cheese didn’t line up that day!

PS this also taught me two valuable lessons….1) Don’t try to push it with regards to fuel and 2) Don’t ASSUME anything!


I think the lack of pitot heat could have been “interesting” on the landing at the end if the temperature was low enough. Not enroute – our planes are not capable of “doing an AF447”.

In my 1700hrs I’ve done some other (hopefully less) stupid things e.g. several times forgetting to raise the gear; the most notable was on a climb out of Wangen-Lachen and wondering why I could not get above FL100 (a very stressful pre departure fuelling situation).

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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