I hear a LOT of newer pilots and CFI's erroneously referring to the Departure leg of the traffic pattern as the Upwind. Ref. A.I.M. Sec 4-3-2. Actually had a Tower controller tell me "I'll call your turn from Upwind" I was clearly on Departure...just left the runway on runway heading. I called back "1234x is on Departure, sir" No reaction. Thank you.


Your Question:

Why is the Departure leg of the traffic pattern being mistaught as Upwind?

Probably because it is quite common to use the term "Upwind" when flying the "Departure Leg" because when doing so, you are flying "upwind." If you look at the Pilot/Controller Glossary in both the AIM and ATC Handbook (same P/C glossary), the term "Departure" leg is not even mentioned. It only shows in the body of the AIM.

Here is what the Pilot/Controller Glossary defines for a "Traffic Pattern:"

(emphasis mine)

TRAFFIC PATTERN − The traffic flow that is prescribed for aircraft landing at, taxiing on, or taking off from an airport. The components of a typical traffic pattern are upwind leg, crosswind leg, downwind leg, base leg, and final approach.

I'm not suggesting that the segment in the pattern you are referring to is not the "Departure leg," just that it is quite common to refer to this segment of the pattern while you are flying it as "upwind" (without the use of the word "leg"). The actual "Upwind leg" (as I'm certain you know) in a traffic pattern is flown parallel to the runway on the opposite side of the "Downwind leg".


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.