I was recently certified to fly solo cross country flights to and from PWM, LEW, 63B, B19, and SFM. As my first foray into my new privelidges, I took up one of the school's C-152s, N94158 today. I filed from PWM to SFM to B19 and then returning to PWM. Winds were 17g20, just within my restriction, so off I went. The first phase of the flight was relatively uneventful. I tracted the ENE VOR and followed I-95 southwest to Sanford. I recieved the AWOS and notified Portland Approach that I was switching to the Sanford CTAF. At this point, I'd like to refer you all to the airport diagram of SFM:
Then things got interesting. The winds were 290 @ 8 gusting 16. This slightly favored using runway 32, as you can see. However, I judged that the difference between the crosswind on 32 and 25 was not substantial enough to outweigh the benefits of using runway 25 for its extra width and length, especially since I am a student pilot used to a 6800' by 100' runway at PWM. Therefore, I made the decision to enter the 45 degree to the downwind for 25. I flew past the airport and executed this entry, calling the CTAF the whole way. As I turned base, a Cherokee called the UNICOM operator asking for wind and runway information. The UNICOM operator said (truthfully), that winds favored 32. Cherokee 7VJ then stated that he was 5 miles south of the airport and would make a left base for runway 32. At this point I was on final, and in a quandry as to what to do. Should I excercise my authority as PIC to use whatever runway I want, regardless of the other traffic? Or should I go with the flow and follow him my next time around? I chose to do the latter, thinking it would be the path of least resistance. How very wrong I was. I decided upon the following plan of action: 1) Touch and go runway 25, since I was already on short final and had announced my intentions. 2) Upon climb out, turn to make heading 230 to make my climb out a midfield crosswind for runway 32. 3) Turn downwind and follow the cherokee for the rest of the pattern. I did this exactly as planned, and established on downwind. Once on downwind, I said "Cessna 158 established right downwind runway 32, looking for the Cherokee." Notice my mistake in saying right downwind, I was in fact on a left downwind. The Cherokee called left base and I continued to look. *ZOOM* He crossed not 100 feet in front of me. Scared the living daylights out of me. A few seconds later I heard "Ah, Cherokee 7VJ, 158, I think I just passed in front of you." I replied, "affirm, have the traffic." He then said, "I think you're on a LEFT downwind." I said, "I'll be, you're right, Cessna 158 is on LEFT downwind runway 32, Sanford." Upon turning base, I apologized to the Cherokee for my mistake, and he replied "No problem". I conducted the rest of the flight without major incident with the exception of a VERY turbulent final approach into B19. My landings weren't great, but they were getting better toward the end, which is always good ;-).
Anyway, there's my adventure for the day. I hope I never have such a close call again.
I feel just awful about what happened. Because of my careless mistake of saying right downwind, I nearly killed myself and another pilot, along with potentially many others on the ground. What do you guys think? Has anyone had a similar experience? I'd love to hear about it. It'd be nice to know I'm not the only idiot in the world ;-).
Here are the pics from today:
I'd love to hear anyone's comments on anything, the pics, the cross country, or the mid-air.