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I noticed a GA plane fly pretty low over my house today heading towards PDX. I checked on FlightRadar and noticed it made (what seemed like) an unusual maneuver. It flew directly to the airport and entered what looked like a very abbreviated right hand pattern to runway 10 at only a few hundred ft MSL. I think it was a touch and go, and it took off right afterwards. The sectional doesn’t show a RP for any PDX runway, and it doesn’t really match any IFR approaches either. What might this be and when would it be approved? I didn’t take a screenshot of the flight path so I recreated it.enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ There's just not enough space on a sectional chart to list all the same details as you would see at a small airport when there are multiple runways. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ Generally at 5-6pm PDX gets about 8-10 Cessna 208s, Fedex feeders, headed northbound. If traffic and winds allow, they land on 3 (northbound). One did a loop over North Portland (CFS7690) onto 3, another looped onto 10R (AMF1985), a few did an abbreviated pattern that matches your drawing (CFS7675, AMF1967), but they landed on 3 and 10R. APC1911 took an interesting path. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ What time was it that this happened? There is a good chance we can go back and look at the ADS-B track of the specific plane, and then possibly even get the audio of ATC around then, and concretely find the ATC instructions to that plane! $\endgroup$
    – Azendale
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 19:26

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When you're at a controlled airport, ATC directions can be anything they want for pattern entry.

AIM 4-3-2 does a poor job of saying it with this text:

When necessary, the tower controller will issue clearances or other information for aircraft to generally follow the desired flight path (traffic patterns) when flying in Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas and the proper taxi routes when operating on the ground. If not otherwise authorized or directed by the tower, pilots of fixed-wing aircraft approaching to land must circle the airport to the left.

But this example would likely be an ATC instruction to make right traffic.

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    $\begingroup$ Just as a useful example - KRNT does this a lot. KRNT is normally a left pattern for 34, but I have been given clearance to enter right base for 34 many times because when coming from KBFI, it makes a lot more sense and fits in better. $\endgroup$
    – Shirik
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 0:57
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Runway 10R at PDX uses Right Traffic.

Source: Airnav. This information is derived from the applicable "Chart Supplement" for PDX, which contains expanded airport data beyond that which is shown on the sectional chart, and is an important document to review before operating to or from any airport.


enter image description here

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ A left pattern at 10R might be slightly stressful for everyone involved. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ @tedder42 You're probably right. But if I were coming in from the NE in my C-310 and wanted to land on rwy 10R a left traffic pattern would not be a problem for me. Maybe ATC would not allow that, but if there wasn't other traffic involved I would think it would be approved. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 19:12

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