35 votes
Accepted

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?

The most obvious thing to me would be to just talk to them: Medevac 123, this is the Diamond on base for 31, do you need to expedite your departure? If they say no, then just continue and land as ...
Pondlife's user avatar
  • 71.7k
26 votes

Why is this plane flying in circles?

That track is a holding pattern. Aircraft fly in a holding pattern most commonly in busy airspace, to create a gap between them and other aircraft in front. This particular flight is probably flying ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 14.3k
24 votes
Accepted

Why not extend the downwind when first learning to land?

... final has a lot for me to handle all at once You don't need to extend your downwind, you need to prepare to land earlier in the pattern. To be honest, flying a longer downwind is not a great idea....
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
23 votes

Why is this plane flying in circles?

An aircraft cannot just stop in flight, like a car stopping on the roadside. So when it needs some delay the crew flies this pattern, called a holding pattern, consisting in flying a leg of about 2 ...
mins's user avatar
  • 73.1k
19 votes

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

The trick my CFI taught me is to use your Course Deviation Indicator or ADF to keep track of landings. After your first landing, bug a course of 010. After your second landing, bug 020. You can reach ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 541
18 votes
Accepted

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

Please don't use "Not in sight". Parts of radio transmissions, such as single words, can easily be cut off or missed, making it sound like you said "In sight". I commonly hear pilots use the phrase "...
60levelchange's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

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

The other answers have provided some easy ways to increment your count without too much distraction, but if you are really "prone to forget [...] when things get busy" as you say, this might ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 55.9k
15 votes

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

Typically it's phrased as "direct to the numbers" and means you should proceed in a straight line from your present position to where the runway numbers are painted on the pavement. This instruction ...
pericynthion's user avatar
  • 4,640
14 votes
Accepted

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

What I was taught that this meant was ... ... because they could not communicate with you, but they wanted you to not land on this pass (interval a mess, crossing traffic, winds maybe wrong, a dozen ...
KorvinStarmast's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

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

I think one thing that does not get emphasized enough: Pilots do not land airplanes!In fact, we try to keep the airplane flying as long as possible! We systematically rob the airplane of energy (...
abelenky's user avatar
  • 30.7k
13 votes

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

Get a Tally Counter, and push the button once per landing. No batteries, nothing to fail, easy to use. Not much more you could ask for. https://tallycounterstore.com/finger-tally-counter-quantity-...
SnakeDoc's user avatar
  • 2,438
12 votes
Accepted

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

Yes, it can happen, but it's pretty uncommon. Airliners arrive at the destination airport having been sequenced by ARTCC ("Center") and Approach so that they are showing up in an orderly sequence, ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.5k
10 votes

What should you do when the pattern is crowded?

As PIC if you don't feel comfortable entering congested airspace at a beehive airport, dont enter it. It's that simple. Divert to another airfield and attempt to return to the original airfield when ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 73.7k
10 votes
Accepted

What is the purpose of a Traffic Pattern?

I think there are two parts to your question: why do traffic patterns exist, and why do people fly around them in circles? First, a huge amount of aviation effort goes into avoiding collisions, for ...
Pondlife's user avatar
  • 71.7k
9 votes

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?

The Cheyenne would have been "cutting you off", if he hadn't worked it out with the aircraft in the pattern and maintained visual separation. According to the AIM, 4-3-3, standard pattern entry at an ...
Greg Taylor's user avatar
  • 3,791
9 votes

Can pilots choose runway and landing direction?

Pilots can request a particular runway approach course and landing but in a controlled environment they are at the mercy of ATC. At high traffic (read busy) commercial airports they are unlikely to ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes
Accepted

How will the lack of ground stations affect navigation?

GPS/WAAS will replace all but ILS in the end. Even now, with graphic displays, smart-lookup from databases, and a line to follow presented to the pilot, VOR use is rapidly falling by the wayside, and ...
CrossRoads's user avatar
  • 8,795
9 votes

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

In the USA, we attended a safety seminar, where the preferred response was "Negative contact, Nxxxxx", or "Traffic in sight, Nxxxxx". My panel now shows ADS-B In traffic, so planes with ADS-B Out are ...
CrossRoads's user avatar
  • 8,795
9 votes

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

It is the advice of the FAA that you should be looking out the window quite a bit when VFR in the pattern. According to this AC related to traffic patterns: Collision Avoidance. The pilot in ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes

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

My understanding of light gun signals was taught to me a little differently. For simplicity, I will concentrate on light gun signals for airborne aircraft only. Alternating Red and Green is exercise ...
Dean F.'s user avatar
  • 16.5k
8 votes

What does "square the base" mean?

" Squaring the base" or "squaring the base to final" is a non-standard instruction used by the controller asking the pilot to fly the base leg until the correct point where he can make a proper 90° ...
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.5k
8 votes

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

If you are confused somehow about your situation over an airport, and there are other aircraft around, head for empty sky away from the airport beyond the pattern/circuit and get reoriented. By empty ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
8 votes

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

Your description sounds like the diagram below, so I'll proceed based on that. When a controller gives you a landing clearance while you are a ways out with no intermediate instructions, it's usually ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
7 votes

How tight should my orbits be?

It sounds like "orbit" is UK-speak for making a 360-degree turn for spacing in the pattern. I'm not sure what the custom is in the UK but in the US I was taught that you make a Rate One turn (3 ...
voretaq7's user avatar
  • 68.4k
7 votes

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

Just talk to the controllers. We live under a Class B with several underlying Class C or D fields. They'll talk to you. They'd rather know what you're planning to do than not, keeps everyone safer.
CrossRoads's user avatar
  • 8,795
7 votes

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

(Disclaimer: I'm not a pro at all, I don't even have any license yet) If you do indeed have a smartphone with you, you might consider just letting a voice recording run for the duration of your ...
Jan Nash's user avatar
  • 263
6 votes
Accepted

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

It looks like you have a few different questions here. As a caveat, I know nothing about Half Moon Bay so these are (educated) guesses to some extent. Someone with personal experience at KHAF could ...
Pondlife's user avatar
  • 71.7k
6 votes

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

The specific reasons will likely vary with each individual airport, but the most common reason I've seen is noise abatement. If the north/south runway is on the west side of town, using right traffic ...
Dan Pichelman's user avatar

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