During a circling approach, can I cross midfield to enter the pattern or do I have to literally fly around the airfield to get into the pattern? I know its an odd question, but my airfield has an RP on one runaway and it would feel safer to cross midfield and enter the pattern

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Pardon my ignorance, but what is an RP? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Feb 26 at 5:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima RP refers to runways with a Right Traffic Pattern. $\endgroup$
    – RTO
    Feb 26 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


During an IFR Circling approach, in IFR conditions, there is no pattern. You own the airspace and can fly anywhere you want, unless it is restricted by a published circling procedure. (example: no circling south of the airport)

In VFR conditions, there might be VFR traffic to contend with. The tower or local VFR procedures would then come into play.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, but I will complicate the issue somewhat. If you break out of the clouds and the airport has VFR conditions AND VFR traffic in the pattern, then the circling approach is expected to join the VFR traffic in a normal pattern entry. This could happen with a marginal VFR ceiling, depending on the circling minimum and such, though VFR traffic is usually rarified on those days. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Feb 25 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I edited my answer to reflect possible VFR conditions. $\endgroup$ Feb 26 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun I did circling apprs all the time in the CRJ sim but never tried a real one. The standard missed approach/engine failure/fire demo for training and check rides was usually done from a circling approach just as you were getting lined up on short final, dialing the stress level to 11. With the US Regionals, circling maneuvers were forbidden by most operators. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Feb 26 at 4:13

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