Let's say that I'm doing some pattern work in my favorite little Cessna or Diamond at my favorite little non-towered airport. Everything is going just fine, I'm on the downwind leg...
Or, wait a minute, am I on the crosswind leg? Which runway are we using today? I just heard another plane on the radio that I can't see; what did she say, again? Is she behind me or are we on a collision course?
In short, I suddenly realize that I don't have a full picture of what's going on here.
What are my options here, and how should I choose between them?
Here are my ideas, from best-sounding to worst-sounding:
- Just climb out of the pattern, then fly a safe distance away from the airport, descend, and fly back into the pattern. I assume that after starting the climb, a quick radio call wouldn't hurt: "Wobegon traffic, Skyhawk eight three four sierra tango, climbing out of the pattern and going west." (I've always heard that you should never descend or climb directly into the pattern, but I've never heard that you shouldn't climb out of the pattern.)
- Keep flying, keep looking out the window, and talk fast on the radio: "Aircraft at Wobegon, where are you again? I'm not sure exactly where I am, do you have me in sight?" (I'd feel stupid saying this, but it's better to speak up and feel stupid than to stay quiet and be stupid.)
- Keep flying, keep looking out the window, stay quiet, and just try to figure out what's going on.