A Humbling Flight

Today I decided to do a quick local VFR flight, which ended up being much shorter than I planned…

Following my pre-flight of the C172, I already had that feeling that I may be forgetting something although I always go line by line on the checklist. Before hopping in I did one more walk around just to satisfy that forgetful feeling. After starting up and checking the ATIS, the wind seemed to be extremely manageable at a 10kt headwind.

Ground Control then taxies me to Runway 04 which I’ve never used so it’s uncomfortable, but I’m familiar with the field so I’m up to a new challenge. The controller seems to be a little confused as to which runway to use because the wind is now variable between 190 degrees (which is a lot). As I’m taxiing out, the ground controller is updating me on the rapidly changing wind, which could’ve been another red flag. As I’m doing my run up I notice about 7-8 coyotes to the east and west of the runway, which eventually cross and disappear into the tree line. After a few minutes I’m cleared for takeoff… as I gain speed, another dashes across the runway and I abort takeoff, request a back taxi and line up and wait.

The second attempt was “animal free”. Immediately after getting airborne the controller asks me to change to Runway 17 since there was a massive wind shift again. He asks me to make a left turn to report a straight in for Runway 17… as you can see from the picture, my brain automatically registered 35. At the time, a left turn just led me to instinctively adjust for a left downwind to 35. Quickly realizing my mistake as I level off at pattern altitude and begin cross checking everything, I embarrassingly request a 180 in the downwind for right traffic to 17. With traffic entering the left downwind this really made me stop and think… being 100% focused on what was happening then and now could’ve prevented it.

It was important for me to share this experience with you, as embarrassing as it may be, to say this: Always trust your gut. It’s okay to cancel. Some flights just aren’t meant to happen. With a “hair raising thought” during pre-flight, an odd runway, coyotes on the runway, and a nearly unmanageable shifting wind, it would’ve been better to just cancel. Focused on work, the messages waiting for me at home, studying, etc, I wasn’t 100% engaged and mistook simple instructions that could’ve hurt myself or others.

Aviation is all about learning. Please learn from this and feel free to share any of your “uh oh” moments below. Thanks for listening!


Wow, that’s very interesting. Thanks for sharing it! :D


Good for you

In IF, I always mess up while using VFR, especially in following rivers, roads…etc

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I nearly ran into Joe while on right downwind at EGLL on Advanced today

Really interesting Tyler!

Very interesting Tyler! Good it happend only at your local airfield.
In IF-world this may have end up with a complaint about the controller in the IFFG group and possibly both you and the other aircraft session-ghosted, and the coyotes as well.


Very interesting! and by the way, nice flightpath :)

Oh I’ve done worse (on IF). I was flying into Newark and instead of landing on the runway I was supposed to land on, I landed in an airport that wasn’t Newark!


Did you get a violation for the airplane being too large?

Very interesting story, Tyler!

thanks for sharing your experience Tyler. One of the best ways of learning is from others and as you said often your first ‘gut’ instinct is the best one!

So if your second turn would have been right instead of left again that would have been perfect?

Exactly, the controller actually wanted me to make that first left turn, then a right turn to final for 17. I should’ve a.) processed the request and b.) asked for clarification if questionable.

As a controller I felt even worse… I can imagine the frustration! 😐

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We’re all just human.

Why was your flight cut so short?
Why were you asked to land on runway 17 right away?
I mean, a short flight is more than taking off and landing again, right?
Where would you have gone if you could have followed your flight plan?
Just interested. :)

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Here in Italy we say ‘good day starts in the morning’ you would have had to give up at the sight of the coyotes!but it is good that in the end everything went well!good story!thanks for sharing!

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I was asked to change to 17 because there was an immediate wind shift coming out of the southeast. After this happened I did 3 more touch and goes before calling it quits.

The wind was too unpredictable and it didn’t feel safe to go on from there… Through the next three patterns the wind rapidly shifted from headwind, crosswind to tailwind. I decided to cut it short and try again another day :)

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Ah, I understood you were going on a short VFR flight, but you were doing touch and goes! :)
Did you land on 17 with a tailwind?


Yup… It didn’t shift to a true tailwind until I was already short final. Pretty weird flight!


Glad you landed safely. :)


In aviation especially always , always, trust your gut. I learned this a while back. Glad you were safe.

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