Questions tagged [traffic-pattern]

The standard pattern that traffic follows when landing at or taking off from an airport, or when performing touch-and-goes. The pattern - or circuit - can use either right-hand or left-hand turns and has five segments: upwind, crosswind, downwind, base, and final.

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13
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2answers
2k views

What is the procedure to follow for “traffic not in sight”?

What would be the proper procedure to follow, when in the pattern or approaching an airport, if ATC gives you the position of an aircraft and you do not have them in sight? Do you just report "not in ...
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1answer
129 views

How could I calculate the correct distance from the runway to be able to fly a continuous downwind to final turn?

I’m not even sure if this is a safe/allowed procedure at controlled airports so it is purely hypothetical. Assuming there are calm winds at the field, is there a way to calculate the distance your ...
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1answer
447 views

How will the lack of ground stations affect navigation?

VOR's and NDB beacons are getting closed day by day and they were used for making and then referencing the holding patterns and the entry procedures and how they were named. So How will we make ...
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1answer
243 views

I flew the wrong pattern at an uncontrolled airport… Should I be worried?

Ugh... I'm beating myself up as I feel I made a pretty serious mistake over the weekend. I'm a PPL trying to build up XC hours trying to work towards my instrument. Over the weekend I did a short XC ...
3
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1answer
116 views

What is the traffic pattern altitude at KSQL?

According to some online sources (https://skyvector.com/airport/SQL/San-Carlos-Airport and https://www.airnav.com/airport/KSQL) TPA at San Carlos Airport is 800 ft AGL. However, reading the Chart ...
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1answer
72 views

How are change-overs between regional air traffic patterns communicated? [duplicate]

The airport near me that has two major landing/takeoff patterns part of a large regional air traffic control plan involving other major international airports (SFO/OAK/SJC) The duplicate-cited ...
5
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2answers
214 views

Do carrier-borne aircraft pilots count the seconds on the downwind leg of the carrier?

On carrier landing, someone tells me that the pilots need to count several seconds on abeam leg of the landing pattern, in order to land precisely on the flight deck. Is that true? What do we call for ...
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3answers
301 views

When to turn from crosswind to downwind to base in a circuit?

I was told by my instructor that my circuit spacing is inconsistent. I do not know how to look at the runway and use it to judge when to turn downwind and base. As a result, my base leg is sometime ...
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2answers
269 views

“Report a 3 mile right base” - where is it measured from? [duplicate]

At which position should you report to ATC?
0
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2answers
87 views

How does the traffic pattern at a large airport affect nearby, smaller airports?

Do the landing and takeoff directions for a smaller airport (GA and bizjet traffic) change when the traffic direction at a nearby large airport changes? Specifically, I'm wondering about how traffic ...
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1answer
1k views

What does “to the numbers” mean in landing clearance?

Last night I was left downwind, abeam the tower, on my second circuit of the pattern. The controller said “helicopter xyz, cleared for the option runway 24, to the numbers”. I already had been given a ...
6
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3answers
827 views

Can pilots choose runway and landing direction?

Pilots normally receive landing clearance for a specific runway assigned by ATC. Absent an emergency, can pilots of commercial flights (depending on the wind conditions for example) choose a ...
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3answers
450 views

How do pattern and overflight altitudes work for airports underneath Class C airspace?

Lowell City Airport (24C) has an elevation of 700 feet MSL. So normally, the pattern altitude is going to be 1,700 feet, and the altitude for overflying the pattern is going to be 2,200 feet. However,...
8
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1answer
329 views

Why must a pilot enter “Upwind” when entering the traffic pattern for RWY 9 at Linden (LDJ) airport in New Jersey?

The chart supplement procedures require aircraft to enter the traffic pattern "Upwind" for Runway 9 at Linden (LDJ) airport in New Jersey. Question: Why is this required? Chart Supplement: New York ...
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1answer
1k views

In a Practice Forced Landing (PFL), what are Low Key and High Key and how are their locations determined?

Please explain what are "low key" and "high key" in practice forced landings? Are they any particular locations with respect to the airfield? Are they the same for every aircraft? Will they change ...
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2answers
468 views

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 ...
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2answers
113 views

Is it normal to choose a left or right pattern based on the wind direction? [duplicate]

I fly at Las Cruces International (KLRU) which is in an area with high winds (20 knots or more). My flight instructor wants me to fly the traffic pattern according to the crosswind direction on ...
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2answers
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Runway Number Landing and Departure Left Traffic Question [duplicate]

If I am "departing runway 36", what does that mean? I understand that runway 36 is at the north end of the runway (360 magnetic); So my question is does the aircraft start at the north end 36 and take ...
4
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3answers
420 views

Distance of downwind leg from runway in glider landing pattern?

Is there guidance from the FAA or AGA on the distance of the runway from the downwind leg of a landing pattern for a glider? For powered aircraft, the FAA recommends in its flying handbook (FAA-H-...
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1answer
241 views

Which atmospheric factors that can affect the performance of an aircraft while flying a circuit?

Which atmospheric factors that can affect the performance of an aircraft while flying a circuit? Apart from the general wind shift.
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2answers
189 views

Why at some airports/airfields you need to fly a non-standard circuit/pattern? [closed]

Why at some airports/airfields you need to fly a non-standard circuit/pattern, what are the specific reasons for this and what are the differences between them while flying?
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0answers
378 views

What regulations support European vs USA traffic pattern entry?

While reading another Stack Exchange question I became aware that Europe approves several more "standard" (for training purposes only, but encapsulates European maneuvers) traffic pattern entries ...
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1answer
378 views

If you turned base early, cutting off other traffic, what is the safest way to rejoin downwind?

Joined the left traffic pattern at a controlled field downwind. Controller informed me I was number three for landing. Saw traffic on final, turned base, reported to tower "following cessna on final"....
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1answer
2k views

At a non-towered airport in the US, what should I do if I hear a medevac flight waiting to take off while I'm turning base?

I'm in the left downwind at my favorite non-towered airport. Just while I'm making the turn to base, I hear a radio call on CTAF: "Such-and-such Traffic, Medevac 123, holding short runway 31." They ...
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1answer
425 views

Is a holding pattern always counter-clockwise?

Is a holding pattern always counter-clockwise? Or is it dependent upon the controlling airspace?
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1answer
149 views

Is 'make small one turn' a standard phrase?

I've heard it somehow that some of USAF controllers say this. is the phrase used in real ATC? if it is, is there any other similar phrases?
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2answers
924 views

Do commercial jets ever make 360 in the pattern for separation?

It's not uncommon for GA aircraft to circle in the pattern for separation purposes. Does that ever happen to big commercial jets? Imagine an airliner were cleared for a visual yet forced to execute ...
6
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3answers
205 views

What should you do when the pattern is crowded?

If you're approaching a non-towered field and you find that the pattern is too crowded to enter what do you do? Provided you have adequate fuel to wait for an opening is there a standard place and ...
2
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1answer
323 views

What are the best tips for circuit practice with strong crosswind?

I am a student pilot with around 30 hours of flying right now. I am yet to solo and I am currently in the final stages of closed circuit practice. Overall, my pattern work is good. However, ...
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2answers
222 views

Is there a good systematic approach to flying an 800 foot pattern?

I have a systematic approach to flying a 1000 foot pattern: abeam the threshold, start a 500 fpm descent; turn when 300 feet below pattern altitude; etc. Does anyone have a systematic approach to ...
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2answers
3k views

What does “square the base” mean?

I was flying the other day and heard tower say to another aircraft, "square the base". What does it mean, and when might a controller say this?
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1answer
503 views

How tight should my orbits be?

I'm flying VFR circuits at a towered aerodrome, and the circuit is quite busy. With traffic ahead of me to land, the tower calls on the radio and asks me to orbit on downwind. I know it's good ...
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3answers
591 views

Why is the VFR traffic pattern area at some airports different from its IFR circling approach area?

Take Half Moon Bay Airport (KHAF) as an example. Under VFR, the traffic pattern is right pattern for RWY 30 and left pattern for RWY 12. This implies the downwind leg is to the EAST of the RWY 12-30,...
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2answers
3k views

How can I stop being too high or low when on base and final?

I'm a student pilot having trouble with landings, and problems are occurring in the pattern on base and on final; I am either too high or too low. As a result, I feel I have lost confidence. I feel ...
4
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1answer
264 views

In a pattern, when do you begin your descent from TPA if following another aircraft?

I had always been taught to begin a descent from TPA abeam the touchdown point, even if tower tells me to follow another aircraft. Yesterday I flew with an instructor who did not want me to descend ...
6
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1answer
943 views

What is the purpose of a Traffic Pattern?

I always see images with a runway and a rectangular flight path over it and ask myself why do the pilots take off, fly around the runway and get back and land, what is the purpose of doing that: take ...
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2answers
566 views

Is it “cutting off” in the pattern when I go before a plane that is going faster than I am but let me in first?

While turning from the 45˚ to the downwind leg for a downwind pattern landing in a Cessna 182, a Cheyenne was calling 5 miles out on a GPS approach for a straight in landing. Clear day, both flying ...
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3answers
6k views

In the traffic pattern, what is the appropriate distance from the runway for the downwind leg?

Specifically for a piston general aviation aircraft, is there a recommended distance from the runway to fly the downwind leg? Does this change based on the speed of the aircraft?
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1answer
1k views

What made 800 feet and later 1,000 feet attractive as the standard traffic pattern altitude?

The value of a commonly understood traffic pattern altitude is obvious, but what is the history behind TPA of eight hundred feet in particular? Why not 700 or 900? Was the later move to 1,000 AGL ...
6
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2answers
383 views

Why do some towers reference departures by compass direction, others by leg of pattern?

Got my Private about 6 months ago, and I've always wondered - let's say I request a VFR departure to the South, with the active runway being, say, 2. Some towers will give my departure clearance in ...
8
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1answer
589 views

Why do some airports have a non standard traffic pattern altitude?

Some airports have a non-standard traffic pattern altitude. For example KGXY is 800 feet. Why is this?
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1answer
527 views

How is a traffic pattern oriented, entered and exited?

If you've received traffic entry instructions from Heathrow Tower (sim) to fly left downwind for runway 9L, does that mean to be to the left of runway 9L (for a right-turning traffic pattern, where ...
5
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2answers
455 views

How do pilots in the US identify the circuit (pattern) height? [duplicate]

In the UK, aerodrome weather information includes not only QNH (the air pressure at mean sea level), but also QFE, the air pressure at runway level. To arrive at an aerodrome, normally one obtains and ...
5
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1answer
9k views

What does the ATC instruction “Make left traffic, runway 19L” mean?

I'm playing Prepar3D and when coming in for a landing I'm usually told something like Make left traffic, runway 19L. I'm not sure how to interpret this because I'm ...
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5answers
2k views

How do you hold at a non-towered airport?

Let's say, hypothetically, that you enter the pattern for a small, non-towered airport (my local one, 3DW, may be a good example.) But as you get into the pattern you find out that the runway is ...
10
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4answers
2k views

Why have different pattern altitudes for different aircraft?

In the FAA AFD for Santa Rosa airport (KSTS), the pattern altitude is given as 1,000’ AGL for small aircraft, and 1,500’ AGL for large aircraft. Why do these altitudes differ? Doesn’t it compromise ...
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2answers
2k views

When to turn base at towered airport?

When at a towered airport and instructed to make "left pattern for runway 3," am I supposed to wait for the base leg turn until tower clears me for landing? This seems to be the norm, but I can't ...
5
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1answer
916 views

Where should I enter the pattern when instructed to report a 2-mile left base?

Say I'm flying heading 275 and am headed in to land on runway 16 at a towered airport in Class D airspace. I'm 8 miles to the east and have been cleared: "report 2 mile left base runway 16". Should I ...
10
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1answer
3k views

Why is it called “base” leg?

When flying a circuit, the leg after downwind and before final is called base. Where does this name come from?
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2answers
5k views

How can I find traffic patterns that pass over my house?

I live in Atlanta, GA well north of the airport and typically there is very few large, commercial aircraft that pass overhead. But there is an on-going security issue at the airport today and there ...