Say I'm flying heading 275 and am headed in to land on runway 16 at a towered airport in Class D airspace. I'm 8 miles to the east and have been cleared: "report 2 mile left base runway 16". Should I go for a standard 45 degree traffic pattern entry to downwind at midfield or should I fly straight to the base and report when 2 miles east of the runway?

In this case I went straight for the base and reported and didn't get yelled at by the controller but I'm curious what the correct thing to do is in this situation.

I'm not asking what a 2 mile base is, I'm asking where I should enter the pattern if instructed to report on 2 mile base.

  • $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of What is a two- or three-mile base exactly? $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ this is a compound question, "what is a two mile base" and "what to do if told report a base as opposed to enter/join a base". $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ If you're not sure what the controller wanted, ask! $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @egid yeah... my CFI decided to talk instead (not my usual instructor) so I didn't follow up a 19,000 hour guy with a question to ATC. Should have just asked him but didn't really think about it at the time. $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:26
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I get where you're coming from, but if the guy actually has 19000 hours... he ought to understand a sterile cockpit and shut up for a few while you clarify instructions. :) $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


I'm assuming you're more interested in the base-or-downwind question rather than the where-is-the-2-mile-base question.

Theoretically you're supposed to fly the published procedure unless told otherwise. In this case the procedure would probably be a standard traffic pattern.

Being told to 'report' means only that, you should report it when you're there.

This is not to be confused with the (in my experience) more common instruction "Enter and report a 2 mile base for runway 16", in which case you head for the base and not the downwind, and you report it when you get there. To argue ad absurdum, the clearance "Cleared touch and go, after the touch and go, make left traffic, report mid-field downwind" doesn't mean you should head straight for the downwind.

As always, when in doubt, ask.

  • $\begingroup$ To be clear though - what the controller means is to enter a 2 mile downwind (meaning 2 miles from the runway) and report when turning base? $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Pugz I'd assume he probably said "enter and report", or at least intended to, so I would've asked if he wanted me to go to the base. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ Cool thanks! He did not say enter, hence my question. $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I too would assume enter was implied, but everyone makes mistakes including controllers. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Curious - I don't see ENTER in the FAA Controller Glossary. Where can I find a better reference of what is meant by this instruction? Do they mean enter the pattern and fly to the base then report or do they mean enter the base directly from your present heading then report? $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:55

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