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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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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 ...
Scott Murray's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
6k 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?
Jason's user avatar
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1 answer
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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 ...
Dan Hulme's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
864 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,...
CrepuscularV's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
Mike's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
405 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 ...
jskypilot's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
user13197's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
WildFlyer's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
16k 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?
jskypilot's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
Greg Bacon's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 547
8 votes
1 answer
1k 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?
ABC123's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
853 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 ...
Rich Jenks's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
799 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 ...
Dan Hulme's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
22k 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 ...
Stefan Dimeski's user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
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 ...
Jae Carr's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
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 ...
Peter's user avatar
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6 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
David's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
Pugz's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
4k 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?
Dan Hulme's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
10k 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 ...
tpg2114's user avatar
  • 205
13 votes
2 answers
10k views

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 ...
Eric's user avatar
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29 votes
7 answers
34k 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 ...
Philippe Leybaert's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
7k views

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 ...
Greg Bacon's user avatar
  • 5,710
6 votes
1 answer
548 views

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 ...
seattle272SP's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
49 views

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?
Stu's user avatar
  • 111
13 votes
2 answers
16k views

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? ...
barmatat's user avatar
  • 497
19 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
falstro's user avatar
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16 votes
6 answers
6k 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 ...
Qantas 94 Heavy's user avatar

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