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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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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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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 ...
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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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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,...
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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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What is the correct traffic pattern at a towered airport?

When flying into a towered airport in VFR, is the pilot expected to enter a standard traffic pattern, or should the plane be flown in the most direct route to final as practical? For example, if ...
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How to join a traffic pattern when passing overhead?

I can't seem to find a definite answer to the question on how to enter a traffic pattern when joining from the opposite end of the pattern. No matter who I ask, I'm getting a different answer every ...
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In a Cessna 172 flying VFR on long final, when do I extend flaps to 10, 20, and 30 degrees?

At the pilot-controlled airfield I use most frequently, we fly a standard rectangular pattern. The normal-landing C172 flap sequence goes Downwind: 10 degrees past the “abeam point” and airspeed in ...
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Which FAR/AIM addresses Shortest Turn to Assigned Heading vs Runway Traffic Pattern?

Today I was in a simulator on runway 20R at KSNA. ATC gave me a VFR clearance and told me to fly heading 080 on departure. The runway has right traffic. I turned right and was told by ATC I should ...
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Is there a good iPhone app for tracking commercial aircraft? [duplicate]

I can see many airplanes circling around to land at KORD. I am wondering if there is a good real-time website or application to track these planes with 30-second accuracy or better. Any ideas?
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What is the difference between “closed traffic” vs “stay in the pattern” request?

My instructor made "request right closed traffic..." call before practicing a series of landings. Just wondering, what is the difference between this request and a "stay in the pattern..." request? ...
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What is a two- or three-mile base exactly?

I frequently hear the tower instruction Report a two mile base for runway 5 What is the intention of that instruction? I realize that under these circumstances that we're not looking for pinpoint ...
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Is a full traffic pattern required when there is no traffic at an untowered airport?

If there seems to be very little traffic at an untowered airport, and no one's replied to any of your radio calls, is it acceptable to just fly a straight-in approach to the runway, or should you ...