Let's say I have the following diagram enter image description here

So, there's runway 28, and people take off straight out to the west towards the ocean. The runway is untowered and its right traffic for runway 28.

When I'm at point A denoted by the star, I can call out "something traffic, white archer 123 alpha over the coast inbound from the south for runway 28 something traffic"

I need to fly abeam the runway continue north and then swing in to join the downwind at a 45 degree angle for right traffic pattern for runway 28. So ideally I want to make a call at point B just to let people know where I'm at especially if there's someone taking off. What would be the right phrasing to report when I'm at position B?

I thought of the following but it seems to add more confusion. "something traffic white archer 123 alpha over the coast abeam runway inbound for runway 28 something traffic."

The problem with this phrasing is, I don't want someone in the pattern getting confused that I'm going to come inbound by just making a right turn instead of swinging north.

Is there a better phrasing to let them know that I'm going swing around to the north and then join the right pattern?

UPDATE Nate Vaughan's post below makes a lot of sense and is instructional. The reason why I asked this question is because part of my training is to go to KOKB to practice untowered communications. That airport has the following traffic pattern:

enter image description here

As listed on their official website: http://www.oceansidemunicipalairport.com/resources.html

Hence, what would I do in this scenario when I'm at position B in my diagram?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not a pilot myself but I would prefer "off the departure end of runway 28" rather than "abeam the airport", especially if you're trying to give a heads up to traffic that might be departing 28 (or even landing 10). $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ Holy cow, this is about the only situation Ive ever seen where our crazy UK "overhead join" actually simplifies things :D $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:56

3 Answers 3


Simple: don't fly at position B. Seriously, off the departure end of an untowered airport is the wrong place to be. Don't be there.

Instead fly over midfield at least 500' above pattern altitude, report when above midfield, and make a left 270 teardrop descent to the 45 degree arrow your diagram indicates. See Airplane Flying Handbook, 7-4.

  • $\begingroup$ I can’t upvote this enough… $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, this is helpful. When I report I'm over midfield, how do I state my intentions of doing a left 270 teardrop descent? Can I make it literal like: "... over midfield doing left 270 to join right downwind runway 28 ..." $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Nate, please see update to my post. @MichaelHall $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ KOKB has special noise abatement procedures which prevent one from overflying the field. The OP does not do a good job of explaining that. Nose Abatement procedures request the pilot fly offshore and enter the downwind as shown in the OP's diagram. $\endgroup$
    – DLH
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 22:45

If you are flying the noise abatement traffic pattern I would just announce:

"Oceanview Traffic Skyhawk NXXX flying off shoreline at traffic pattern altitude towards Santa Margarita River for right pattern downwind entry runway 24 Oceanview Traffic"

I don't think you need to specifically announce when you are abeam the runway especially when that far out. The local traffic should know to avoid the offshore traffic.

However if you ever have questions about local airport procedures it is usually best to ask either the FBO or airport manager than an online forum. Don't be afraid to call someone at the airport if you are not sure what to do.

  • $\begingroup$ If you are off shore at pattern altitude, you just entered at crosswind and can just fly the pattern rather than overshoot and do another entry, no? Shouldn't you still be above pattern altitude at this point? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 19:07

Sorry for the ad hoc drawing, but the FAA‘s recommended procedure for entering the pattern in this case is as follows:

enter image description here

  1. Pilot flies toward airport center at 500’ above TPA,avoiding either the approach or departure corridors for the runway. Pilot would make radio contact on CTAF starting at a minimum of 10 miles from airport announcing intentions.

  2. Passing midfield over the airport, still at 500 feet above TPA, pilot will announce position on CTAF and state intention to make a left teardrop for the 45° entry into the right downwind for runway 28. Pilot will begin to descend while flying perpendicular to the runway outbound once clear of the traffic pattern.

  3. once at traffic pattern altitude, pilot will begin a left turn to enter on a 45° line for the right downwind runway 28.

This isn’t exactly rocket science, but what you’re seeing out at that airport is a symptom of poor flight instruction for private pilots. Most instructors never teach students this and it could be an awful shock on a check ride when an examiner expects to see this.

As the previous poster said, it yes it is always wise to avoid the departure corridors of an airport especially untowered airports.


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