# How do I enter the traffic pattern if I am coming from a nonstandard direction?

I have some questions on entering the pattern, VFR at an uncontrolled airport:

Scenario: let's say I am going to land on a one-runway airport (36-18). Also, let's say I will be landing on 36 (left pattern) and I would like to enter left downwind.

I would like to know the proper pattern entry for left downwind for 36 for these different routes:

1. What is the proper entry if I am coming from 090°?
2. What is the proper entry if I am coming from 020°?
3. What is the proper entry if I am coming from 180°?
4. What is the proper entry if I am coming from 200°?
• Where in the world are you located?
– user
Oct 4, 2018 at 13:58
• There's no such thing as a "non-standard direction". There's just a direction, and you should be taught to enter a traffic pattern from all of them. The question is fine, but the assumption that there's such a thing as a standard direction is misleading IMO.
– Jamiec
Oct 4, 2018 at 20:20
• Closely related, maybe a dupe? Oct 4, 2018 at 21:04
• Why not make all pattern entries 45 degrees to downwind? Notice if you do something "different", someone could be coming not only from 45 degrees downwind, but also from a touch and go or aborted landing. Assuming (better to check) the airport has a left hand pattern, one can maneuver their approach to the airport to "drop into" the pattern in a consistent manner, making it safer, and also beginning the process of setting up your landing. Oct 6, 2018 at 2:30

I am answering this question based on U.S. operations and a plan to land on runway 36 using left traffic:

My opinion -

Option 1: If you are arriving from east of the airport (from 090 or 020) you should fly over the airport at an altitude well above pattern altitude, observing the traffic (if any) then descend to pattern altitude west of the airport well beyond/outside the traffic pattern. After that enter left downwind at midfield from a 45 degree angle at pattern altitude.

Option 2: If you are arriving from east of the airport (from 090 or 020) and have determined (visually and monitoring the CTAF) that traffic is extremely light or non-existent, flying over the airport and entering directly to a left downwind at pattern altitude (not descending) is an option.

Entering the traffic pattern after approaching the airport from the south or west (from 180 or 200) should be done by maneuvering west of the airport, well beyond/outside the traffic pattern, until you are able to enter left downwind at midfield from a 45 degree angle at pattern altitude.

See the examples from the illustrations below and familiarize yourself with AC 90-66B, which is an excellent guide.(illustrations below are from AC 90-66B)

Follow published procedures if available (of course).

Otherwise, there is no "proper" way other than that you stay out of the circuit area until you are at the right altitude and course to enter downwind (in Europe right angle to mid-runway, in U.S. at 45 degree angle).

E.g. if you come in from the opposite end of the entry, you can either fly over the circuit or make a large circle around the circuit area.