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 ...
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  • 70.2k
24 votes
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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....
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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 ...
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  • 521
18 votes

How to join a traffic pattern when passing overhead?

What is the correct way? Is there a difference between controlled and uncontrolled airports? What about the procedure when approaching from other angles? Well I'll address your second quesition first:...
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  • 67.2k
18 votes
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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 "...
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18 votes

Why not extend the downwind when first learning to land?

In my opinion, you should certainly ask your CFI to ensure that artficially extending the downwind is something he/she would like you to do. That being said, the correct profile for traffic patterns (...
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  • 17k
16 votes
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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 ...
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  • 43.9k
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 ...
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  • 4,561
14 votes
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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 ...
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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-...
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  • 2,328
12 votes
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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 (...
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  • 28.3k
12 votes
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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, ...
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  • 41.7k
11 votes

What is the difference between "closed traffic" vs "stay in the pattern" request?

The recommended phraseology depends on the airport. If it's tower controlled then you're encouraged to use ATC's phraseology per JO 7110.65V (3−10−11): PHRASEOLOGY− LEFT/RIGHT (if required) CLOSED ...
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  • 559
10 votes
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What is the correct traffic pattern at a towered airport?

When flying into a towered airport, you will be given specific instructions, as per the ATC Handbook, Section 10, Arrival Procedures and Separation such as: "make left traffic for runway 15" "enter a ...
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  • 16.4k
10 votes
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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 ...
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  • 70.2k
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 ...
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9 votes

How to join a traffic pattern when passing overhead?

This topic can generate a lot of discussion as you've noted, but I think there are some generally accepted conclusions. The simplest case is joining the pattern at a controlled airport because the ...
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  • 70.2k
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 ...
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  • 3,711
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 ...
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  • 95.9k
9 votes
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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 ...
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  • 8,689
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 ...
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  • 8,689
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 ...
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  • 95.9k
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 ...
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  • 16.1k
8 votes
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How can I find traffic patterns that pass over my house?

Its not that easy for a non-pilot to do it, but there are about a dozen "Arrival Procedures" that show specific routes into ATL. You can also see on the Atlanta Area Chart how some of the traffic ...
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  • 16.4k
8 votes
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Which FAR/AIM addresses Shortest Turn to Assigned Heading vs Runway Traffic Pattern?

The most important point is that if any ATC instruction isn't clear then you should just ask them to repeat or clarify it. Having said that, turning in the shorter direction is stated in the FAA's ...
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  • 70.2k
8 votes
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How do you hold at a non-towered airport?

There's no "standard holding pattern" at any airport, towered or not. If the runway is occupied or temporarily closed for some reason, you might was well leave the traffic pattern and go putt around ...
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  • 195
8 votes
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What does the ATC instruction "Make left traffic, runway 19L" mean?

'Left' or 'right' traffic means that when you are flying the traffic pattern, all turns are to that direction. The wikipedia article on traffic patterns isn't bad, and has some decent graphics, ...
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  • 23k
8 votes
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Why have different pattern altitudes for different aircraft?

Several possible reasons. Speed differences between aircraft classes. Larger jets cruise and land at much faster speeds than single-engine props. Keeping their pattern separate from slower traffic ...
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  • 22.2k
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 ...
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