Runway Incursion: Pedestrian Version

The FAA and many pilot organizations have given much attention in recent months to prevention of runway incursions involving aircraft. However, these events may also involve pedestrians, as a general aviation pilot discovered after parking his aircraft at a new FBO.

I had flown into [airport] with a CFII for my instrument cross-country requirement, and the aircraft was secured with…a new FBO. Weather the following day prevented my departure, so we stayed over another day… My brother-in-law drove me to the airport but we were unable to locate the road to get to the new FBO location. Time was getting late to make my take-off…and my brother-in-law was going to be late for work. We never did find the road that led to the FBO.

We noticed what appeared to be a ramp path from some hangers just south of the Tower area, where I could see the FBO across what appeared to be all ramp. Some new construction was also seen, a new taxiway to the new FBO area with cones blocking any vehicle movement on the taxiway. I elected to take what seemed to be a safe path across a construction zone. I did not see any runways when I exited my brother-in-law?s car…

As I approached the construction area, I noticed the Runway 10 threshold and realized the runway was there, but still thought it was part of the construction area as the runway?s surface condition was quite rough. To be safe, I looked for traffic and walked around the threshold end of Runway 10 in the mud. After I had passed, I noticed a Cessna 172 and a King Air enter the run-up area, then they took Runway 10 for takeoff a few minutes later. At that time I realized this runway was still active.

I continued to walk to the FBO across the newly constructed ramp area south of Runway 10 when the airport authority representative in a truck stopped me… He informed me that what I had done was a runway incursion and, after quick reflection, I agreed with him…

The airport authority suggested I contact the FBO by phone, as it is part of their services to me as a pilot to help me get around the airport in just such instances. While the runway incursion event with an airplane was clear to me through reading AOPA Air Safety Foundation literature, I did not comprehend at the time the same event could be triggered by a pedestrian. I now fully understand this and will avoid it under all circumstances in the future.

In 1999, the most recent complete year for which the FAA has collected runway incursion data, Vehicle-Pedestrian deviations accounted for 19% of all runway incursion events. Pilots who find themselves in our reporter?s situation should resist walking or driving across the airport surface. Help is usually just a phone call (or radio call) away.