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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3 votes
3 answers
459 views

Is this exam question on traffic patterns wrong?

I just don't know the difference between Left-hand traffic and Right-hand traffic. I thought Left-hand traffic uses when land to the East and right-hand traffic for when land to the west. Is anyone ...
17 votes
6 answers
3k views

Why not extend the downwind when first learning to land?

I'm supposed to turn base when I see my touchdown point is 45° off my shoulder. But I'm a newbie and final has a lot for me to handle all at once. I'm sure as I improve it will become easier, but what ...
2 votes
1 answer
173 views

Approaching a towered airport for landing but no specific pattern entry direction from atc

Here’s the scenario that happened to me - Flying into a busy class D, I contacted tower with the usual “XYZ tower, Warrior 12345 12 to the west at 2,500 full stop with Oscar” They respond “Warrior ...
1 vote
2 answers
126 views

What options are there when in a base or final traffic pattern to allow higher priority traffic to take off? [duplicate]

Today, my instructor and I were practicing landings - touch and go's. We are at an untowered airport, KLGD. Wind was favoring runway 30. There's been some fires in the area; we checked the NOTAMs and ...
11 votes
3 answers
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?
6 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
9 votes
6 answers
747 views

If I'm cleared to land without any specific instructions on how to enter the pattern, what should I do?

I learned at an uncontrolled airport. I thought I had controlled communications down pretty well, but I upset the tower controller today. Situation: I was coming from the southeast, and tower told me “...
8 votes
4 answers
11k 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?
1 vote
0 answers
108 views

Flying in V formation with multiple planes

Logistically choreographed using air-traffic controllers to pair like planes headed in the same direction or by scheduling flights together, how much fuel could be saved pairing planes to fly in a ...
19 votes
8 answers
4k views

How can I easily keep track of my landing count during pattern work?

PPL Student pilot, ~20 hrs Hi, whilst doing some pattern work I frequently find myself unable to keep accurate track of the number of landings. There's an AFIS at my home airport who keeps track (...
1 vote
1 answer
111 views

Why is the TPA listed on the Chart Supplement (AF/D) sometimes lower than 1,000 AGL? [duplicate]

I'm looking at B19 in Maine, and it recommends a Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA) of 995 MSL (800 AGL). Wouldn't 1,000 AGL be safer?
8 votes
2 answers
755 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"....
2 votes
1 answer
764 views

How should I make a downwind departure from a towered airport?

I'll be departing from a towered (Class D) airport, and I need to make a left downwind departure and turn right off the downwind leg to exit the pattern. I've done this with a CFI, and I've also made ...
29 votes
7 answers
31k views

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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
512 views

What is the purposes of grid-like pattern route for small aircraft? [duplicate]

In these days, I see small aircraft like P68 fly with a very accurate "grid-like" pattern. I'm sorry but I don't know the correct word. Here a couple of examples, grabbed today at the same time: and ...
1 vote
3 answers
527 views

How to get the correct speed/power on downwind?

(Note: in this example I'm taking speeds from a Cessna 172) I was taught that on downwind, you fly at pattern altitude at a normal power setting until you beam the numbers, at which you reduce power (...
0 votes
0 answers
75 views

How to find out how many aircraft depart/land from a country per day?

I am trying to get the following information. I would like to know for each day how many aircraft have taken off and departed from a specific country. This information should be up to date and ...
14 votes
4 answers
3k views

What does the flashing green-light signal (return for landing) actually mean to NORDO aircraft?

Studying for the PSTAR I see that a flashing green signal while in the circuit means "return for landing" but this is not actually defined anywhere. What does that mean? NORDO = "is an aircraft ...
16 votes
6 answers
5k views

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 ...
2 votes
2 answers
574 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 ...
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

What should I do if I lose situational awareness while in the pattern?

Let's say that I'm doing some pattern work in my favorite little Cessna or Diamond at my favorite little non-towered airport. Everything is going just fine, I'm on the downwind leg... Or, wait a ...
10 votes
1 answer
614 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 ...
4 votes
4 answers
713 views

Does a pilot need clearance to enter the traffic pattern?

In one video, I saw a Cessna that got its instructions to enter the pattern along with landing clearance, but I saw another where the pilot just flew in and got clearance somewhere around late-...
1 vote
2 answers
102 views

How to not converge or diverge from the runway when there aren't checkpoints?

When flying circuits under VFR, if there is no clear distinct checkpoint available, what can you do/use as a checkpoint? I suspect the runway but please correct me if I'm wrong. How do you make sure ...
13 votes
2 answers
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 ...
19 votes
1 answer
7k views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
226 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 ...
7 votes
1 answer
533 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
642 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
88 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 votes
2 answers
331 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 ...
2 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

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

At which position should you report to ATC?
0 votes
2 answers
105 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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
2k 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 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
5 votes
3 answers
791 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,...
4 votes
3 answers
697 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-...
2 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
159 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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
848 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.
0 votes
2 answers
229 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?
3 votes
0 answers
786 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 ...
28 votes
1 answer
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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
683 views

Is a holding pattern always counter-clockwise?

Is a holding pattern always counter-clockwise? Or is it dependent upon the controlling airspace?
0 votes
1 answer
164 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?
6 votes
3 answers
348 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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
9 votes
3 answers
734 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,...