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Situation: I’m at the uncontrolled small airport (one runway and one taxi way). The runway in the direction I will be taking requires backtaxing. I’m ready to taxi, I check the radio and get ‘clear and loud’ back. I pull up to hold short lines, check the downwind, base and final, announce that I’ll be starting backtaxing and pull up to the runway (i.e. facing the final). To my horror I discover that there is an aircraft that must have just turn final. I execute 180 and exit the runway. The other aircraft lands and I re-enter the runway, backtaxi and take off. After I land I find a message from the owner of the flight school/club that own the place I used. He says that the airport called him, saying that I taxied in the line of approaching aircraft, but I couldn’t be reached on the radio. In fact, I did not hear anything during the entire episode (either from the airport, or the approaching aircraft). During my flight (1.7 hr) I used the radio repeatedly without any problems.

I am, of course, hugely embarrassed about the whole episode/incident. I’m a new pilot (130 hours) and I love the place where I rent the planes. I haven’t yet heard from the owner of this school/club (other than the initial voicemail), but I wonder if you could help me to answer the following: (a). what likely legal consequences will I face and (b) even if I don’t face any legal consequences, is it likely that I will be banned from renting this school/club planes in the future.

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  • $\begingroup$ Part (B) of your question is purely opinion based and is not a good fit for Aviation. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jun 27 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ The b. question is about a common practices of the aviation clubs. I'm surprised by your comment. $\endgroup$ – Thad Jun 27 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ You should report this incident in accordance with local regulations. $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jun 27 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Would you please clarify who you got the radio check with? And who is “the airport” that was trying to warn you on the radio? Is there a FSS at the field? And was the radio check made with the same entity that was attempting to contact you during the incident? $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Jun 27 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ Dean F already made a good answer to this Q, I'll just pop my comments here: you did well. You used the radio, there might have been a misconception about frequency, or some other issue which prevented comms. Your intentions were good. And, you did spot the other aircraft, vacated runway and saved the day. What I would do, is I would definitely report this incident. Reports are used to primarily advance safety, not to find and punish the "guilty". Once again: you lived to tell the tale, tell it. God knows why there almost was an accident, but you prevented it. Learn from this and all is ok. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Jun 27 at 20:28
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From your description, you did nothing wrong. But, there is a possibility that one of you was on the wrong frequency. It is hard to prove that unless the radio calls were recorded. There is iPad software for recording your radio transmissions.

The more important lesson to be learned is that a nontowered field is supposed to be pilot-controlled. But, it is perfectly legal to fly in pilot-controlled airspace without talking on the radio. Even if neither of you made a radio call, you would be within the FAA regulations.

The mistake that was made was that neither of you maintained situational awareness. You should always visually clear the traffic pattern while taxiing to and holding short of the runway. This is especially true for final approach. In the case of a high-wing aircraft, you will have to angle the nose of your aircraft downwind toward final. Otherwise, your wing will block your view of final.

P.S. It might not be a bad idea to file a NASA report.

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