|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||airport : cdw|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 300|
agl bound upper : 300
|Controlling Facilities||tower : cdw|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Any Unknown or Unlisted Aircraft Manufacturer|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 8|
flight time total : 364
flight time type : 280
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : local|
|Qualification||controller : non radar|
|Anomaly||other anomaly other|
other spatial deviation
|Independent Detector||atc equipment other atc equipment : unspecified|
|Resolutory Action||controller : provided flight assist|
flight crew : became reoriented
flight crew : exited adverse environment
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
I was returning from rhode island to caldwell, nj, under 'perfect' VMC: flight visibilities of over 50 mi, and smooth air with a gentle headwind. I decided to wait until after sunset to fly because the air traffic volume would be less, and that I could see traffic without the setting sun hindering visibility. I did not consider the lack of moonlight a factor, because I had over 40 hours' experience in night and night cross-country flight. Furthermore, I had recent instruction under night conditions, as I had not flown for a 13-month period before may/xx/94. My instructor and I both felt that I could handle night flight. This return trip was 'perfect.' I was under VFR flight following as soon as I departed on the return trip. I requested and received clearance through the new york class B airspace direct to caldwell. I had flown at 8500 ft along the connecticut coast. New york approach directed me to descend to 4500 ft as I entered the airspace, and then to 3500 ft as I flew over the bronx. I was then given a heading of 310 degrees. I was able to fly parallel to the george washington bridge. This was the first time I have flown over new york city at night. Flying from the deep black of long island sound and the countryside through the bright lights of the city was a different experience, since all of my previous experience was over suburban and rural areas. As I passed by the bridge, the bridge appeared very close. I remarked about this to my passenger and checked the altimeter, concerned that I lost about 1000 ft. The altimeter still indicated 3500 ft. As I continued, I saw caldwell's beacon. New york approach instructed me to descend to 2500 ft, and I complied. There was some traffic heading in the opposite direction at around my altitude: I was able to avoid it by comfortable margins. As I entered cdw's class D airspace, I was still under new york approach's radar. I called up approach and asked to speak to cdw tower. New york approach terminated my radar service. I called up cdw tower from 3 mi and 2500 ft as inbound and requested to overfly the airport. I intended to use the standard and familiar r-hand traffic pattern for runway 22. Cdw tower cleared me to land on runway 22 from a left base, an approach that I had never done. (I flew out of cdw as a student and based myself there for over 120 of my total time of 360 hours, and never heard of anyone flying a l-hand pattern to either runway 22 or runway 27 on account of terrain.) I descended to 600 ft and decided to go around, as I was way too high to land. I announced my intentions and climbed. However, suburbia begins again at the departure end of runway 22, and the ground got dark again as I flew over the golf course. I climbed to 900 ft, but even though I looked at the altimeter, I interpreted it to read 1900 ft and started to descend to pattern altitude! Cdw tower gave me a low-altitude warning as I passed midfield at about 500 ft MSL, or 300 ft AGL. I climbed to over 900 ft and turned base. I was cleared to land and landed cleanly. After I parked the aircraft, I realized the magnitude of my blunder. Upon consideration of the facts, I feel that these were the contributing factors: my lack of experience in night flight over big cities. The earth looks real close when it is all lit up. I knew the ht of the george washington bridge: the roadway is 500 ft MSL. It looked much closer and bigger at night than I ever imagined. I made a mental note to add 1000 ft to what I perceived. When I overflew the dark terrain that was more familiar to me, I failed to 'deduct' that extra 1000 ft from my perception. I did check the altimeter, but somehow did not really get that it was reading 900 ft. Only the controller in the tower got me to realize my error in time. Failure to verify my perceptions adequately. I should have taken an extra moment to be certain of my altitude, especially since I check the altimeter at any time I hear an altimeter reading. Fixing on one aspect of the situation, air traffic, too much. There was considerable traffic flying into teterboro and out of newark and morristown. I was too busy with the air traffic and put my relationship with the destination airport to a lower priority. I feel now that I should have known better and figured out that my assigned heading of 310 would put me on a left base for runway 22. Inadequate knowledge of ATC procedures. I did not know for certain whether I had clearance to enter cdw's class D airspace, although I was under approach control. As I consider this now against past experience, I realize that new york approach would have turned me over to the tower at the appropriate time. Failure to assert my authority/authorized as PIC. Although it would have taken an extra 5 mins time for me to overfly the airport as I requested, so that I could get my bearings and fly a pattern with which I was familiar and therefore safer, I complied with the controller's instructions, assuming that I could execute them competently. Instead, it turned out that the new situation that was presented to me increased my stress level. So I got confused and performed the worst blunder of my flying 'career.' corrective action I will be taking: I discussed the matter with the assistant chief pilot of the FBO from which I rented the plane. I contacted my CFI as soon as possible. I have asked him to design a comprehensive lesson plan which will address night flying and other matters discussed above.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: NIGHT GAR PLT MISREAD ALTIMETER INST 1000 FT LOW FOR SELECTING DOWNWIND ALT. LOW ALT ALERT WARNING BY TWR PROMPTED PLT TO CLB TO SAFE ALT.
Narrative: I WAS RETURNING FROM RHODE ISLAND TO CALDWELL, NJ, UNDER 'PERFECT' VMC: FLT VISIBILITIES OF OVER 50 MI, AND SMOOTH AIR WITH A GENTLE HEADWIND. I DECIDED TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER SUNSET TO FLY BECAUSE THE AIR TFC VOLUME WOULD BE LESS, AND THAT I COULD SEE TFC WITHOUT THE SETTING SUN HINDERING VISIBILITY. I DID NOT CONSIDER THE LACK OF MOONLIGHT A FACTOR, BECAUSE I HAD OVER 40 HRS' EXPERIENCE IN NIGHT AND NIGHT CROSS-COUNTRY FLT. FURTHERMORE, I HAD RECENT INSTRUCTION UNDER NIGHT CONDITIONS, AS I HAD NOT FLOWN FOR A 13-MONTH PERIOD BEFORE MAY/XX/94. MY INSTRUCTOR AND I BOTH FELT THAT I COULD HANDLE NIGHT FLT. THIS RETURN TRIP WAS 'PERFECT.' I WAS UNDER VFR FLT FOLLOWING AS SOON AS I DEPARTED ON THE RETURN TRIP. I REQUESTED AND RECEIVED CLRNC THROUGH THE NEW YORK CLASS B AIRSPACE DIRECT TO CALDWELL. I HAD FLOWN AT 8500 FT ALONG THE CONNECTICUT COAST. NEW YORK APCH DIRECTED ME TO DSND TO 4500 FT AS I ENTERED THE AIRSPACE, AND THEN TO 3500 FT AS I FLEW OVER THE BRONX. I WAS THEN GIVEN A HDG OF 310 DEGS. I WAS ABLE TO FLY PARALLEL TO THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE FLOWN OVER NEW YORK CITY AT NIGHT. FLYING FROM THE DEEP BLACK OF LONG ISLAND SOUND AND THE COUNTRYSIDE THROUGH THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF THE CITY WAS A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE, SINCE ALL OF MY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WAS OVER SUBURBAN AND RURAL AREAS. AS I PASSED BY THE BRIDGE, THE BRIDGE APPEARED VERY CLOSE. I REMARKED ABOUT THIS TO MY PAX AND CHKED THE ALTIMETER, CONCERNED THAT I LOST ABOUT 1000 FT. THE ALTIMETER STILL INDICATED 3500 FT. AS I CONTINUED, I SAW CALDWELL'S BEACON. NEW YORK APCH INSTRUCTED ME TO DSND TO 2500 FT, AND I COMPLIED. THERE WAS SOME TFC HEADING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION AT AROUND MY ALT: I WAS ABLE TO AVOID IT BY COMFORTABLE MARGINS. AS I ENTERED CDW'S CLASS D AIRSPACE, I WAS STILL UNDER NEW YORK APCH'S RADAR. I CALLED UP APCH AND ASKED TO SPEAK TO CDW TWR. NEW YORK APCH TERMINATED MY RADAR SVC. I CALLED UP CDW TWR FROM 3 MI AND 2500 FT AS INBOUND AND REQUESTED TO OVERFLY THE ARPT. I INTENDED TO USE THE STANDARD AND FAMILIAR R-HAND TFC PATTERN FOR RWY 22. CDW TWR CLRED ME TO LAND ON RWY 22 FROM A L BASE, AN APCH THAT I HAD NEVER DONE. (I FLEW OUT OF CDW AS A STUDENT AND BASED MYSELF THERE FOR OVER 120 OF MY TOTAL TIME OF 360 HRS, AND NEVER HEARD OF ANYONE FLYING A L-HAND PATTERN TO EITHER RWY 22 OR RWY 27 ON ACCOUNT OF TERRAIN.) I DSNDED TO 600 FT AND DECIDED TO GAR, AS I WAS WAY TOO HIGH TO LAND. I ANNOUNCED MY INTENTIONS AND CLBED. HOWEVER, SUBURBIA BEGINS AGAIN AT THE DEP END OF RWY 22, AND THE GND GOT DARK AGAIN AS I FLEW OVER THE GOLF COURSE. I CLBED TO 900 FT, BUT EVEN THOUGH I LOOKED AT THE ALTIMETER, I INTERPRETED IT TO READ 1900 FT AND STARTED TO DSND TO PATTERN ALT! CDW TWR GAVE ME A LOW-ALT WARNING AS I PASSED MIDFIELD AT ABOUT 500 FT MSL, OR 300 FT AGL. I CLBED TO OVER 900 FT AND TURNED BASE. I WAS CLRED TO LAND AND LANDED CLEANLY. AFTER I PARKED THE ACFT, I REALIZED THE MAGNITUDE OF MY BLUNDER. UPON CONSIDERATION OF THE FACTS, I FEEL THAT THESE WERE THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: MY LACK OF EXPERIENCE IN NIGHT FLT OVER BIG CITIES. THE EARTH LOOKS REAL CLOSE WHEN IT IS ALL LIT UP. I KNEW THE HT OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE: THE ROADWAY IS 500 FT MSL. IT LOOKED MUCH CLOSER AND BIGGER AT NIGHT THAN I EVER IMAGINED. I MADE A MENTAL NOTE TO ADD 1000 FT TO WHAT I PERCEIVED. WHEN I OVERFLEW THE DARK TERRAIN THAT WAS MORE FAMILIAR TO ME, I FAILED TO 'DEDUCT' THAT EXTRA 1000 FT FROM MY PERCEPTION. I DID CHK THE ALTIMETER, BUT SOMEHOW DID NOT REALLY GET THAT IT WAS READING 900 FT. ONLY THE CTLR IN THE TWR GOT ME TO REALIZE MY ERROR IN TIME. FAILURE TO VERIFY MY PERCEPTIONS ADEQUATELY. I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN AN EXTRA MOMENT TO BE CERTAIN OF MY ALT, ESPECIALLY SINCE I CHK THE ALTIMETER AT ANY TIME I HEAR AN ALTIMETER READING. FIXING ON ONE ASPECT OF THE SIT, AIR TFC, TOO MUCH. THERE WAS CONSIDERABLE TFC FLYING INTO TETERBORO AND OUT OF NEWARK AND MORRISTOWN. I WAS TOO BUSY WITH THE AIR TFC AND PUT MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DEST ARPT TO A LOWER PRIORITY. I FEEL NOW THAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER AND FIGURED OUT THAT MY ASSIGNED HDG OF 310 WOULD PUT ME ON A L BASE FOR RWY 22. INADEQUATE KNOWLEDGE OF ATC PROCS. I DID NOT KNOW FOR CERTAIN WHETHER I HAD CLRNC TO ENTER CDW'S CLASS D AIRSPACE, ALTHOUGH I WAS UNDER APCH CTL. AS I CONSIDER THIS NOW AGAINST PAST EXPERIENCE, I REALIZE THAT NEW YORK APCH WOULD HAVE TURNED ME OVER TO THE TWR AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. FAILURE TO ASSERT MY AUTH AS PIC. ALTHOUGH IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN AN EXTRA 5 MINS TIME FOR ME TO OVERFLY THE ARPT AS I REQUESTED, SO THAT I COULD GET MY BEARINGS AND FLY A PATTERN WITH WHICH I WAS FAMILIAR AND THEREFORE SAFER, I COMPLIED WITH THE CTLR'S INSTRUCTIONS, ASSUMING THAT I COULD EXECUTE THEM COMPETENTLY. INSTEAD, IT TURNED OUT THAT THE NEW SIT THAT WAS PRESENTED TO ME INCREASED MY STRESS LEVEL. SO I GOT CONFUSED AND PERFORMED THE WORST BLUNDER OF MY FLYING 'CAREER.' CORRECTIVE ACTION I WILL BE TAKING: I DISCUSSED THE MATTER WITH THE ASSISTANT CHIEF PLT OF THE FBO FROM WHICH I RENTED THE PLANE. I CONTACTED MY CFI AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I HAVE ASKED HIM TO DESIGN A COMPREHENSIVE LESSON PLAN WHICH WILL ADDRESS NIGHT FLYING AND OTHER MATTERS DISCUSSED ABOVE.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.