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Pilot Inadvertently Lands On Wrong Side Of Half-Grass, Half-Pavement Runway

A pilot landed on the wrong side of a runway at night. Here's how it happened.

Boldmethod

Report: Landing On A Parallel Grass Runway By Mistake

We found the following NASA ASRS report published by a pilot who made the mistake of landing on a grass parallel runway at night. When we first read this report, we wondered how this mistake was possible. But after a little digging, we found out just how easy it would be for any pilot to make the same mistake flying into the 7B3 Hampton Airfield at night.

Returning to 7B3 (Hampton Airfield) late at night, I turned on the runway lights, and landed in-between them. However, the lights border the grass runway rather than the asphalt runway that I meant to land on. As a result, I landed on the grass runway, when I expected to land on asphalt.

This could have been dangerous if the grass runway had been blocked with snow (it was not, fortunately). The grass runway was not operational at the time (NOTAM). It's not clear that in order to land on the asphalt, I'd have to land OUTSIDE the two sets of runway lights that border the turf runway. Adding a third row of runway lights (on the other side of the asphalt runway) would make it much more clear for a night landing.

Let's take a look at the "non-standard" configuration of this airport's runways and lighting.

Google Maps / Boldmethod

What's Nonstandard About The 7B3 Airfield?

The first place we looked for some information was the chart supplement, which has a written description of the 7B3 airport (no taxi diagram is drawn by the FAA for this airport). As you'll notice, there are a few notes pilots flying here should pay extra attention to, especially regarding non-standard, low-intensity runway lighting (LIRL):

FAA

The airport's single 2,100-foot Runway 02/20 is essentially half-grass, half-pavement. The edges align with each other to form a wide landing area, although parallel operations are prohibited. This unique configuration is best flown into for the first time during the day.

While the FAA hasn't published a taxi diagram for this airport, if you're a ForeFlight user, you're in luck. ForeFlight has developed its own airport diagrams for many airports around the country, including 7B3. Here's what you'll see when using your EFB:

ForeFlight

If you'd happened to read AOPA's free airport directory online, you'd have seen the following review by another pilot:

Grass runway open now; adjacent to paved runway. Use caution on grass in winter and during thaw; call ahead for conditions. Runway lights outline both paved and contiguous grass runway; recommend experience operating there during the day prior to attempting night landing (tree tops are unlit and in close proximity to runway). Great friendly field with a great restaurant!

What do you think? Have you flown into 7B3? Tell us in the comments below.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics, and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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