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Pattern entry

Old 02-06-2011, 07:08 AM
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Default Pattern entry

OK, forum experts, how would you handle this routine situation?

You are in a Skyhawk five miles southeast of your destination, an uncontrolled airport with standard traffic patterns. You've been listening to the CTAF and know that the wind favors runway 36, and that it's typically busy for a pretty Saturday morning, with two transient arrivals and one closed traffic already in the pattern. How would you enter the pattern?

Last edited by EasternATC; 02-06-2011 at 07:10 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:34 AM
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Over the top, well above TPA then turn around and enter the downwind on the 45 far enough out so as not to interfere with the pattern traffic or other arrivals.

That's the textbook answer and the one you had better use on a checkride. It is not regulatory, so you can do something else if you judge it to be safe under the existing conditions. But if you create a conflict and the FAA finds out they will bust you for 91.13.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:44 AM
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I agree with Rick. At a busy nontowered airport, I will use the textbook entry. If not, while still obeying the direction of turns part, which is in the regs, I might do something else. Given the southeast position and use of runway 36 in your scenario, I would have been listening it from further than 5 miles out and probably put myself into position for a straight-in while still well clear of any pattern.

More to the east than south, a crosswind entry would also be a choice. At some airports, a crosswind entry might even be the most use entry (it was where I initially trained).

But absent some local knowledge or conditions, the textbook answer is the one most likely to be expected (itself a safety factor), takes very little extra time, and will be the least questioned in case of an incident.
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by EasternATC
OK, forum experts, how would you handle this routine situation?

You are in a Skyhawk five miles southeast of your destination, an uncontrolled airport with standard traffic patterns. You've been listening to the CTAF and know that the wind favors runway 36, and that it's typically busy for a pretty Saturday morning, with two transient arrivals and one closed traffic already in the pattern. How would you enter the pattern?



Sounds like a good set up for the initial, break...90 percent power
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ryan1234



Sounds like a good set up for the initial, CARRIER break...90 percent power
Fixed it for you
Come in UNDER the traffic and everyone else is highlighted against the sky

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(Where is the picture from?)
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:05 AM
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Sometimes there is a wish to see the wind sock without having to do a low pass over the field. You can "attempt" to see the wind sock/ triangle from 1,500 AGL over the field on a midfield crossing, then commence your descent to pattern altitude on a 270 to midfield downwind. Resist the temptation to get low, because if you missed an airplane already on downwind it could be a very bad day. I also discourage doglegs in lieu of base legs. A lot of pilots do it, but it puts you in a spot that is NOT where we look for traffic most of the time. By and large as Noy said it is best to either do a straight in or try and approach from the downwind side in a textbook entry.
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:19 AM
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I'd say text book entry. Overfly midfield check that sock, and 180 back in on the 45. Make sure you 180 back in well away from the Downwind and announce the heck out of your positions, especially if it's busy.
I've had some close calls flying in to uncontrolled airports, and you'd be surprised how many people screw em up.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:23 PM
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It has been a long time since I flew GA into non-controlled fields, but I thought I remembered straight-ins as being the LEAST favored pattern entry. Did I imagine this or can someone back this up?

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Old 02-07-2011, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by USMCFLYR
It has been a long time since I flew GA into non-controlled fields, but I thought I remembered straight-ins as being the LEAST favored pattern entry. Did I imagine this or can someone back this up?

USMCFLYR
The most-favored is a 45 join to the downwind. The rest are all in the same boat.

AFAIK, straight in is "least favored" in the sense that without VASI or some other glidepath indication, it's the most difficult for an average pilot to visually gauge and stabilize his approach. But with plenty of straight-in instrument approaches into nontowered fields (and many more now than before GPS) it's hard to justify it being unfavored from an operational standpoint.
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by NoyGonnaDoIt
The most-favored is a 45 join to the downwind. The rest are all in the same boat.

AFAIK, straight in is "least favored" in the sense that without VASI or some other glidepath indication, it's the most difficult for an average pilot to visually gauge and stabilize his approach. But with plenty of straight-in instrument approaches into nontowered fields (and many more now than before GPS) it's hard to justify it being unfavored from an operational standpoint.
IIRC - it was more about visibility and position (or accurate position) reporting and sequencing when I *thought* I heard that is was least favored.
It stuck in my mind for some reason because I remembering thinking that it would be a good approach (no turning, initial level flight and then hopeful nice constant descent approach, all threats out in front of the windshield / off the nose, etc...)

I'm about to get my fill of flying in / around noncontrolled airports very soon I'm going around 2-3 of them even tomorrow hopefully! These discussions always help me a lot.

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