A general aviation pilot recently supplied ASRS with a compelling tale of “wrong way” ground navigation:
I had flown into [airport] for the first time two days prior [to incident]… The Ground controller gave me excellent progressive taxi instructions to the general aviation tiedown area.
[On day of incident] I was cleared to taxi to Runway 03 via Bravo taxiway. Ground instructed me to follow the taxiway out of GA parking, and turn right at Bravo, which I did. I was unable to see a separate run-up area, so upon reaching Runway 03, I stopped behind the runway boundary, switched to Tower frequency, and began my run-up. Tower called…and said that I was blocking the taxiway…and told me I should move to the run-up area. I turned the aircraft around, pointing it now at the side of the taxiway away from the runway and asked if the direction I was now pointing was the direction of the run-up area (it was a wide taxiway, and I thought the far side might be the run-up area). Tower told me “No, just go to the end of Runway 03.” I thought it was an unusual place for a run-up, but I visually confirmed that there were no aircraft on final for Runway 03, and the Tower frequency was congested, so I simply responded “End of Runway 03.”
As soon as I was on the runway, Tower called and asked if I had entered the runway evidently surprised that I had. I responded that I thought that’s what he had told me to do. He responded that he hadn’t… In discussion afterwards…[my passenger and I] concluded that the controller had meant that we should have gone to the extreme southern edge of the taxiway adjacent to the end of Runway 03.
The situation could have been avoided if: 1) I had asked Ground about the specific location of the run-up area; 2) Tower had indicated “the taxiway adjacent to the end of Runway 03” instead of “the end of Runway 03”; 3) I had called for confirmation on what I thought was an unusual instruction.
Tower controllers, as well as pilots of large jet aircraft, have a better overall view of runways and taxiways than do light airplane pilots. ATC should keep this in mind when giving taxi instructions. Pilots of light airplanes should ask for progressive taxi instructions when uncertain of directions.