Pattern Manners to the Test

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Judging by the volume of mail we got on last week's article on non-towered operations, I know people are thinking about this issue. The first tower closures happen during early April and will continue until May, pending any action by congress and the administration to straighten out the mess they've made of budgeting. Watch for the crap to really hit the fan in May or June when summer air travel picks up and radar facilities start working short staffed due to furloughs. We'll soon see if the impacts are real or not.

Several readers wrote with suggestions that I didn't cover in the article. Mike Meador offered this: "One suggestion regarding your example: 'Sanford traffic, Cherokee entering the downwind for runway 6, full stop, Sanford traffic.' My current instructor is David St. George. He recommends dropping all unnecessary articles and prepositions, especially 'for' since it can be mistaken for '4'. Thus your example would become, 'Sanford traffic, Cherokee entering downwind runway 6, full stop, Sanford traffic.'" Good point. I never thought of that one.

"I would add only one thing: use your lights--all of them--in the pattern and on takeoff. You'll have a little trouble in the J-3 since the switch is hard to find. You'll just have to rely on the color," wrote Ron Robinson. This might just be a good time to add those recognition lights you've been considering or a landing light flasher. There are several good ones on the market, including LED technology.

David Faile asked about the specific reference in the AIM that authorizes straight-ins. Haste makes waste; I should have checked this. It's not in the AIM, it's in AC 90-66. But a version of it used to be in the AIM. Here's the passage: "The FAA encourages pilots to use the standard traffic pattern. However, those pilots who choose to execute a straight-in approach, maneuvering for and execution of the approach should be completed so as not to disrupt the flow of arriving and departing traffic. Therefore, pilots operating in the traffic pattern should be alert at all times to aircraft executing straight-in approaches."

And that gets us to pattern manners and straight-ins in the first place. This is like arguing religion or politics, for which there is no winner but an awful lot more heat than light. My view on straight-ins is do them, or don't do them—your choice. I fly them sparingly. In fact, the last one I did was in a TBM about a year ago.

It's not that I think they're unsafe, it's just that some pilots get so wrapped around the axle when they see one, the resultant radio litigation introduces a hazard where none existed before. For a couple of extra minutes of flying, it's just easier to appease those who don't like straight-ins by entering a conventional pattern. And it usually is more orderly. If there's little or no traffic, I'll consider them. I never fly them in the Cub. It's just too slow and tends to bollix up traffic that hasn't even arrived at the airport yet. Or maybe even taken off from the departure airport.

And that gets us to some basic manners. A few years ago, I got assaulted on a CTAF for landing behind another airplane still on the runway at a non-towered field. The offended pilot—who was actually an instructor—said the FARs say that an airplane on the runway owns it and anyone who lands on the same runway or taxis onto it is in violation. Pity how an instructor can be so misinformed about basic regulations.

Obviously, you can legally land on a runway behind another airplane. But should you? Yes, if you can do it safely and safely is in the eyes of the beholder. Much of the blather I've read about tower closings implies that visual towers have separation requirements. And they do, but only for the runway. Around the airport, they're on the hook for sequencing and advisories, but not separation. Runway separation at towered airports varies by aircraft type, but the minimum for small airplanes is 3000 feet. (Read more here.)

And if you've flown into AirVenture, you've probably seen as many as three airplanes landing on the same runway at once. It can be done safely by pilots who have a modicum of speed control and skill. If you don't, go around. But don't expect me to. As for the distance, 3000 feet is ATC's minimum, but it's otherwise not a regulatory minimum. Apply what you think is safe and get on with it. For slow airplanes, 2000 feet may be generous.

How about takeoffs with an airplane at the end of the runway, just exiting? It depends. If I can reasonably assess he'll be off the pavement before I rotate, I'll consider it. But I'm not willing to fly over or to jink to one side of airplane still on the runway. That would look just too stupid in the accident report, so I'd rather wait until the airplane clears. In a landing and rollout, the energy curve is diminishing; it's increasing in a takeoff, and that's not a good bet.

Over on the AOPA forum, I noticed some pilots discussing my favorite topic: unnecessarily large traffic patterns. More than any other, I predict this will become a source of irritation for pilots flying into semi-busy airports with closed towers. One commenter allowed as how if the finals get too long, he'll damn well turn inside them, land and clear the runway before the other airplane can become a factor. Sadly, I have to agree. I have done this and will again if pilots just can't make the pattern sizes reasonable. (My definition of reasonable is generous. A two-mile final is pushing it.) In the name of courtesy, I'll let the pilot know I'm turning inside and I'll do it only if extending to follow will aggravate the situation, as it almost always does. To me, the over large pattern is the height of discourtesy and shows a troubling lack of skill.

In desperation, another instructor showed me one way to deal with this. If you're in the downwind peering at an over-the-horizon airplane on final, throw out the flaps and slow as much as you can. (Why else practice slow flight?) When the airplane comes into view, don't wait for it to pass your wing before turning base, but start a slow turn to base, keeping the airplane on final on a line of constant bearing.

Because you're slow, your turn radius will be small and you won't be forced to extend your downwind for the poor sod behind you. And unless the airplane you're following is as slow as a slug—not too likely if it's flying a long final by choice—it will be opening up the interval because of your slow speed. You can then adjust your own final to build in adequate separation with the airplane ahead of you. You can also turn a tighter crosswind to take the telescoping out a pattern that other pilots are simply abusing.

Just let everyone know what you're up to on the CTAF. You can impose order on chaos without getting nasty about it.

Comments (37)

When I flew Caravans I always flew tight patterns which work great at 80kts (or a C182 at 60kts). But when flying an aircraft at 140kt approach speed tight patterns don't work very well. Those flying approach speeds below 85kts need to keep this in mind. On the other hand just because I am in an aircraft that uses 140kt approach speed does not give me or anyone else the right to barge into the pattern doing a straight in approach and landing, cutting off any other traffic doing so. Jets and turboprops can fly proper patterns also. The only time I do straight in approach and landings in VFR conditions is at night when there is very little traffic flying. Even when doing an IFR approach, if breaking out into class G airspace below 1200agl, you are still responsible to see and avoid. Just a little consideration for the other aircraft and this tower closure business can be a non-issue.

Posted by: matthew wagner | April 4, 2013 1:18 AM    Report this comment

Yes, Paul, it is common these days - particularly with older instructors - to hear citations for rules that exist only in the instructor's mind.

We all need to be a bit chatty on CTAF when landing. It can be nearly impossible for one pilot to see all the other planes in all possible positions in the traffic pattern.

I would be very careful about cutting off someone on a long final. Besides being against the rules (if he is lower) you might not see the other plane on a shorter final that is the cause for the wide pattern being used by the one you do see.

In my years of operating from uncontrolled airports the only consistent problem I have had is jets using long straight in approaches and demanding others get out of the way. This was a common practice at Leesburg when the Firestone jet hopped from Dulles to pick up the aircraft's owner. If we do see an uptick in collisions I expect it to be this mix of slow single engine planes and multi-engine jets that are involved.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | April 4, 2013 3:20 AM    Report this comment

Good advice as always. One thought, though. Knowing in advance a field is not towered would help minimize confusion on the scene. On the off chance not everyone will know in advance a formerly towered field is non-towered, a repeating sentence on ATIS would offer 10 - 15 mins of warning to all but those who don't talk on no stinkin' radios, much less check weather a few miles out.

Good radio discipline would be helpful as well. Chatty as suggested above is good, but chatty at Frederick (as in "hey, is that you Joe, how's the family . . . ) with the flight school, helo school, MD Police helo, biz jets, and an assortment of the rest of us, will make things interesting.

OK, that's two thoughts, but it doesn't happen often . . .

Posted by: DANIEL DEDONA | April 4, 2013 5:26 AM    Report this comment

I used to instruct full time at a busy non-Towered GA 'drome that had the full spectrum of performance (J-3 to G-4) and experience (1st solo to ATP). At first I got testy with straight-ins into a busy traffic pattern. Later, I came to the conclusion that it was better for all of us to help the big fast guy get on the ground sooner and out of our way so I would make every effort to make room for the straight-ins. Go arounds, slow flight, and a calm "welcome to Destin, enjoy your stay" got to be a fairly regular comment. Courtesy and patience have to be our watch words.

Posted by: Bill Castlen | April 4, 2013 5:57 AM    Report this comment

Bill, I like your solution to the straight in jet problem. In truth there is no way these aircraft can use the same traffic pattern as light planes. Even if they tried their minimum speed is not compatible with the smaller planes. Getting them in and out of the way in the quickest possible time seems like a good idea. Alas, some pilots (I'm thinking of female students like my wife) are reluctant to yield to the jets.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | April 4, 2013 6:13 AM    Report this comment

Five additions:

1. One of the most effective ways to have a close encounter of the aluminum kind is to descend into a traffic pattern. P L E A S E ensure that you're AT traffic pattern altitude when you enter the pattern.

2. If the pattern's busy, it's helpful to append the type of operation you intend to conduct (full-stop; touch-and-go; low approach, etc.), as it allows others to plan their spacing accordingly.

3. If you're flying a traffic pattern that's non-typical (like right-hand traffic as called for in the Facilities Directory), it's helpful to add the word "right," as in: "Smallville traffic; blue Cherokee; right base runway 33; Smallville; touch-and-go." Non-locals may not be aware of the prescribed right-side patterns.

4. When appropriate, use the CTAF to negotiate a sequence with other traffic. Reporting identified traffic in sight, with your intent to follow them to the runway, can be helpful and reassuring. If you want to know what type of operation that traffic is planning – ask. A simple “say type landing” will suffice. But don’t direct questions to anyone who’s on short final.

5. At formerly-towered fields, remember that the CTAF now will be used for airborne AND on-ground operations. Please don’t use the former ground-control frequency to announce your taxi plans. But please DO announce your intentions to cross ANY open runway immediately before doing so.

Fly safely!

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | April 4, 2013 7:42 AM    Report this comment

I would also like to stress the concept of listening to the CTAF before keying the mic. In our area, and I'm sure in other areas as well, there are several non-towered airports on the same frequency, all within "earshot" and the ensuing squeal of several pilots keying the mic at the same time is at least annoying, at most a safety concern.

One more pet peeve; listen to the CTAF for a minute or 2 before asking "what runway are you using". You can usually get the answer without asking.

Finally, "any traffic in the pattern please advise" is stupid. My reply to this is "Only the guys with no radios".

Posted by: Jerry Plante | April 4, 2013 7:46 AM    Report this comment

You know what the best medicine for non-towered ops holy wars is? A little grace. I've gotten cut off by the blackjacks formation team in the Puget Sound area before. Just said "umm, number 8 final I guess, Jefferson." The lead was sheepish and I called back that it was no big deal. A little grace. At least I got a funny story out of it. How about a student flying a huge pattern? Sure we need to cure that, but give a little grace to the dizzy newbie who is only flying his third landing ever and trying real hard just to stop getting snarky "head out of the airplane my padawan" comments. A little grace. Like the guys above say, let the jet fly its visual and be helpful. It ain't no thang. A little grace. Some knucklehead used the old "traffic please advise" redundant redundancy? Don't let it rankle. Just a little grace.

The virtue I think people should put into practice that cultivates this grace is humility. Thinking of yourself first before others, even "innocently", is a subtle and pernicious thing. Especially subtle for people who have, shall we say, healthy self esteem as pilots and masters of their own destiny. The best, most gracious people I see out there are the ones who know their skill, don't need to prove it, and really like and really want to elevate other people. That tends to prevent almost all the nonsense that we're talking about here. It's almost a Fred Rogers zen thing: really really honor the dignity of the person next to you.

Posted by: Michael Mullins | April 4, 2013 8:13 AM    Report this comment

Oh yes, sunday school lesson aside, I'll reiterate Thomas's advice to add turn direction: "Sanford traffic, Cherokee left downwind runway 6, full stop, Sanford traffic". That was if, God forbid, someone's flying a non-standard pattern for whatever reason we let people know whether someone's flying a left downwind or a right downwind. It's just one extra syllable, a good habit, and wouldn't do harm in a professional callout. And if there's room on frequency it also makes for calmer people when you're merging or something to sometimes say "following downwind Cherokee, traffic in sight" or some similar coordinating call.

Posted by: Michael Mullins | April 4, 2013 8:17 AM    Report this comment

There is no legal or written standard for the "tightness" of a pattern. I think one of the dangers of uncontrolled airports is that there is so much variation in pattern shape. If everyone flew tight patterns seeing other traffic would be much easier. There is no good reason for a C150 to be flying downwind a mile from the runway

. Instructors should insist students fly tight patterns....much easier to keep everyone in view.

Posted by: David Alger | April 4, 2013 8:19 AM    Report this comment

Since most of my flying is at non-towered airports, varying in "busy-ness" depending on the day and the hour, and varying in use by everything from slow experimentals and trainers to biz jets and the occasional airliner, and by pilots ranging from newbie students to ATPs, I've found that most of the time, things work well as long as everyone follows simple "rules": standard relatively tight patterns, proper TPAs (not all are 1000' AGL!), announcements of actual location, listen before speaking, common courtesy, etc. The problems arise with bullies--both GA and airliner--who do non-standard things and expect everyone else to accommodate them.

This one was a classic example, at least at first. Several airplanes were in the pattern at KFNL, busy Saturday, using 15 due to a reasonable wind from the south, everyone doing a pretty good job of announcing their positions, when Allegiant airliner calls, "Fort Love traffic, Allegiant MD80 on 20 mile final for 33, any other traffic please advise." I couldn't resist (in my best dictatorial ATC sort of voice): "Allegiant calling Fort Collins/Loveland. Be advised there are many aircraft in the pattern using 15, wind from the south. Suggest you get in line like everyone else." Dead silence for a few seconds, then a different voice announces, "Allegiant MD80 will enter wide downwind for 15."

There are a lot more examples of good practices, so follow the "rules", be polite, and problems will be minimized.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | April 4, 2013 9:09 AM    Report this comment

I used to fly a Tri-Pacer into Lovell Field, Chattanooga (towered field)and sometimes would get caught on long final with a Navy/CG T-39 Sabreliner on my tail as sequenced by the tower. These guys would fly up from the Gulf Coast for practice. I could hear the anxiety in the jet pilot's voice worried about over-running my puddle-jumper (I was a little concerned as well). So I call up tower and volunteer to do a big 360 on final to let the Sabreliner pass. Suddenly I was an instant hero to everybody, and enjoyed seeing the T-39 fly by while getting a little variety and a unique view of the airport. I did this on several occasions, and while it was interesting, the best part was hearing the relief and gratitude from the the tower and jet pilots. Michael is right, a little grace does wonders for everybody.

Posted by: A Richie | April 4, 2013 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Regarding straight in approachs: I remind my students that if they didn't fly a pattern, they didn't get a good view of the entire runway. How do you know the runway is clear if you didn't look at it?

Posted by: Mark Stevenson | April 4, 2013 10:25 AM    Report this comment

All comments here are good ones. Descending into the pattern instead of entering pattern at the proper altitude is definitely a bad practice. Also for our fellow piston flyers remember that pattern altitudes for turbine aircraft is 1500ft AGL vs anywhere from 600ft to 1000ft AGL for piston aircraft. I like Mr. Alburn's response to the airliner trying a 20 mile final at a busy airport pattern! No reason for not making this work for everyone safely!

Posted by: matthew wagner | April 4, 2013 10:30 AM    Report this comment

One thing I'll add which hasn't been mentioned much is that I'll add in the last 3 numbers of my tail number when announcing. Using color doesn't help much, since it's hard to tell what color trim a white-and-something plane is from a mile or more away, and often times everyone is pretty similar in color anyway. And just announcing "Cessna turning left base" doesn't help either when there are 3 or more Cessnas flying the pattern, as is often the case at my home airport (also, what kind of Cessna? 152? 182? Citation?). Adding in the last 3 of the tail number doesn't add to frequency congestion, but does add greatly to my mental picture of where everyone is in the pattern. Apparently, this is also the suggestion the local DPEs are giving, so it's not just my view.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | April 4, 2013 10:56 AM    Report this comment

"Anybody not here raise your hand"

Posted by: A Richie | April 4, 2013 11:40 AM    Report this comment

I never do straight ins, since it is really hard to see the planes on downwind when your closing speeds are pushing 200kts.

If I'm coming from a direction where a straight in would be the easiest way to land, what I do instead is fly an upwind 500-1000ft above TPA on the non-pattern side of the runway. This gives me a good view of all the traffic on downwind and the departures. It makes it real easy to turn crosswind at the right time to merge with existing traffic.

Posted by: John Clear | April 4, 2013 12:02 PM    Report this comment

Our retired USN commander beat me to it here. Thank you sir!

"Chatty" is great, so long as it's strongly coupled to "concise". A high data/verbage ratio on the radio is a powerful virtue.

Posted by: Steve Cornelius | April 4, 2013 12:48 PM    Report this comment

How tight should the pattern be? According to Sanders Hudson, who learned to fly in the 1920s, "If your engine quits when you're turning base, you should be able to make the runway."

Posted by: Richard Montague | April 4, 2013 12:57 PM    Report this comment

I was taught that when you are "abeam the numbers" on downwind and first reduce power, always keep close enough to make the runway if the engine quits. Almost had to use that one time...engines tend to quit when they are fooled with (by fools or otherwise)

Posted by: A Richie | April 4, 2013 1:17 PM    Report this comment

To A Richie:

I still teach idle-power approaches from abeam the numbers at cruise airspeed. It takes very little airspace to slow to approach speed, configure for landing, and turn toward the runway. In fact, it takes less time to do it than it does to describe it!

Only AFTER my students have learned how to approach and land with zero power, do I let them try it carrying power. One of the questions on my pre-solo written exam is "at what point do you descend from traffic pattern altitude?" The correct answer is "when it's necessary to do so, in order to land."

I can't tell you how many pilots I've flown with who were taught to begin a descent on the downwind leg. When the control tower tells them to "extend downwind" after they've begun their by-rote descent, it's amazing how low they will allow themselves to get - while they're still flying AWAY FROM the runway! I had one guy fly us down to 200 feet above Long Island Sound at Bridgeport, CT - while still on an extended downwind. I asked him what his plans were for after the upcoming water landing. I wonder what he would have done at night? He said "my instructor taught me to start descending on downwind." I'm sure she did..... (She was an Embry-Riddle graduate - explains a lot!)

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | April 4, 2013 2:31 PM    Report this comment

Where is it written that you can't land on a runway that is still occupied? This is what that silly instructor was probably yelling about. 91.113 says that the ROW is with the airplane on final .... "but shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface" A very poorly written "but" IMHO. But, how does anybody "force" another airplane off the runway. Short of a Tenerife-style runway incursion, nobody can force another airplane off the runway. I always wondered why this confusing ROW rule was written so poorly. Could it be that giving the ROW to the first guy with his wheels on the ground doesn't work if fancy landing operations allow multiple airplanes to land simultaneously?

Posted by: Andre Abreu | April 4, 2013 5:09 PM    Report this comment

I had a man tell me that when the pattern gets busy he waits outside the pattern doing circles until it sorts itself out. I took that advice and practice it often. Two or three circles usually does it.

Posted by: jay Manor | April 4, 2013 5:13 PM    Report this comment

I usually try to do "Spot Landings" as defined by the FAA in various documents. This is a maneuver that must be demonstrated on the commercial check ride. It is also the best way to land a single engine airplane.

It is much like the procedure described by Thomas Yarsley except for the cruise airspeed on downwind. That only works for trainer type aircraft. For higher performance ones it is a much better idea to slow to trainer type airspeeds (70 KIAS) before entering the pattern and holding that airspeed on downwind. Go lots faster and you will run over the slower planes ahead of you on downwind.

Power is reduced to idle when opposite the numbers and not used again until after touchdown. It doesn't matter where on the runway you actually touch down, but if you come up short and have to add power to make the runway the maneuver is failed. Of course, you can't do this if there is traffic in front of you that makes you extend your pattern. While called a "Spot Landing" it is actually a practice approach for emergency landings. If you do this most of the time then the real emergency landing you must perform when the engine quits is something you have practiced a lot and you can do all the correct judgements with no problem.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | April 4, 2013 9:35 PM    Report this comment

I have heard no discussion about a middle course on tower closures between a fully towered airport and no ATC at all. There is safe and acceptable middle course that is very common in Canada and removes much of the see and avoid problem of mixed traffic at non-towered airports.

It is the use of mandatory frequency (MF), sometimes combined with Remote Aerodrome Advisory Service (RAAS).

MF requires traffic broadcasts at all relevant stages of ground movement and flight in a Class E control zone, not just advisories. RAAS adds a remote flight service station to make the calls to, who communicates with all aircraft in the control zone, and who points out all relevant traffic, etc. Some RAAS also have remote radar. It works well. So a Citation on straight in instrument approach knows that the 172 in the circuit is aware of it and vice versa. Pilots are responsible for see and avoid, but at least you always know what to look for and where it is coming from.

It seems to me that this is a cost-effective solution that retains the essential elements for safe flying.

Posted by: CHRISTOPHER MOON | April 4, 2013 11:29 PM    Report this comment

On the KSAF-KCOS flight, we would intercept the localizer and turn final about a hundred miles out. Often with a visual on the airfield. Did that mean we had right of way over traffic in the pattern? Even an approach category C aircraft isn't in the pattern until 2 1/4 miles. P/C glossary indicates "final" means aligned with the runway and inside the FAF. Those are the words and phrases what we are expected to know, so if y'go calling "final" any other time, well, it has no recognized meaning or authority.

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 6, 2013 7:30 AM    Report this comment

On the KSAF-KCOS flight, we would intercept the localizer and turn final about a hundred miles out. Often with a visual on the airfield. Did that mean we had right of way over traffic in the pattern? Even an approach category C aircraft isn't in the pattern until 2 1/4 miles. P/C glossary indicates "final" means aligned with the runway and inside the FAF. Those are the words and phrases what we are expected to know, so if y'go calling "final" any other time, well, it has no recognized meaning or authority.

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 6, 2013 7:30 AM    Report this comment

I agree with the humility and grace approach. I make no claims to any airspace – any other pilot can have the airspace I'm in or will be in, any time he/she wants it. It's all yours, have a nice day.

But sometimes, it is tough to be gracious. Example:

We have a couple of "hotshot" formation pilots out at T41 who like to do their thing with total disregard for everyone else in the pattern, or on the ground. To their credit, they do at least use the radios to announce their idiocy.

One fine weekend afternoon, after a couple of touch and goes, I was on the downwind for RWY 30 (wind about 28008kt), and I notice these two guys doing their runup at the departure end of RWW 12, which is right next to their hangar. As I make my call and turn to base for 30, these guys pull onto 12 and announce their intent to depart. I reminded them that I was on base and about to turn final.

Two, to his Lead: "Maybe we should let him land"

(as if I now want to land on a runway with two aircraft staring me down from the other end)

Lead: "Forget it, we're on the runway, and we own it. We're departing 12"

(mind you, this is as I was about to turn short final opposite direction).

It took all of my "grace and humility" not to unload on these guys over the freq. As it was, I asked them to wait until I re-entered the pattern upwind and let them have the airport. At lease they had the courtesy to do that.

Next time, I may not be so gracious.

Posted by: Andy Turnage | April 6, 2013 7:31 AM    Report this comment

Well said Michael Mullins - a little grace in all aviation activities (and life in general) would go a long way. A little grace would help to accommodate the wonderful range of diversity we have in aviation from the wide eyed newbie on his/her first few trips around the patch who fumble with the calls, to the crew of a biz jet on the last leg of a long trip flying a VIP around that are just anxious to get home to their loved ones and SLEEP, to the old aviator who just wants to fly the cub around the patch a few times just because they can. We are all in such a hurry these days... A little grace is a beautiful thing.

Posted by: Craig Arcuri | April 6, 2013 10:02 AM    Report this comment

For anyone interested in it, here's a link to FAA 7400.2 referred above.

But it's important to understand this order does not deal with aircraft flight operations and is thus not controlling for Part 91 ops. It's strictly related to Part 77 airspace considerations and how they relate to VFR traffic.

I don't see where it has any relevance to pattern entries or how they are flown. The AIM doesn't give any distance or dimension guidance for patterns so, shocking as it seems, we're on our own to determine these.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 6, 2013 1:29 PM    Report this comment

Paul, no, Order 7400.2 does not regulate Pt91 ops. Nor 135, nor 121. But think. If the VFR traffic pattern airspace is set up on that basis, and we are discussing VFR operations in the traffic pattern airspace, with the goal of smooth, courteous ops with no collisions - might it not be a good idea to fly in that airspacd as the designers expected? I did not mean it was a flight regulation, I meant what I wrote - the FAA has written guidance on traffic pattern size.

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 6, 2013 5:40 PM    Report this comment

Hey, I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. With a lousy i-net connection and not knowing how to edit mis-posts, well...anyway. Just because the info on what the friendly aviation advisors must do when allocating pattern airspace is not also in the AIM does not mean it does not exist and aviators are abandoned to indiscriminate idiocy. We have been invited to read all the FAA pubs. 91.103 does say, "all available information" does it not?

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 6, 2013 6:50 PM    Report this comment

P/C glossary indicates "final" means aligned with the runway and inside the FAF. Those are the words and phrases what we are expected to know, so if y'go calling "final" any other time, well, it has no recognized meaning or authority.

At 7A8 we have no FAF, so calling final may have no authority but it does have meaning.

Posted by: Richard Montague | April 9, 2013 9:12 AM    Report this comment


When did the practice ending a transmission on a CTAF of break with standard phrase-ology?

1.Who are you talking to. 2.Who you are. 3.Where you are. 4.What you want (or are going) to do.

Using your example Paul: 1. “Stanford traffic” 2. “Cherokee entering (say: left or right) downwind runway 6.” 4. “Full stop – Stanford”.

No purpose is served what-so-ever by adding “traffic” at the end of the transmission!

One VERY important addition is left or right traffic. You may know (or think you know) the standard traffic pattern at that airport but others may not. You say left or right traffic for the same reason you signal lane changes in your car: the other traffic you don’t see (like the guy who’s about to pass you going 30MPH over the speed limit or the guy making left traffic when that airport has right traffic…)

Posted by: KRIS LARSON | April 9, 2013 6:26 PM    Report this comment

Richard Montague pointed out a shortcoming in my statement about "final" and a FAF. I was addressing those who believe "final" for an airport runway begins when the PIC says it does, no matter the distance. At 7A8 with no FAF, revert to the AIM pattern diagrams and Order 7400.2. Since "final approach" at 7A8 is part of the traffic pattern, "final" is within the traffic pattern airspace. Not five or ten miles out. So yes, Mr Monague, you are correct. The word's meaning is clear from FAA documents readily available to all.

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 11, 2013 7:27 AM    Report this comment

Mistyped "Montague" sorry

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | April 11, 2013 7:28 AM    Report this comment

First off, who is prada nancy and why is he/she posting gibberish?

As usual, there are exceptions to almost every rule or suggestion. My airport (small, private, in the mountains) rarely has more than one plane in the pattern at the same time. Flying a pattern won't help you much with checking out the runway since our downwind (either direction) is flown in the same parallel valley where you can't see much of the runway over the intervening ridge. Because of the low trafffic levels, I frequently come straight in. Announcing my intentions well in advance, of course, in the unlikely event that there is someone else there. I do this as opposed to burning 15gph flying a pattern that benefits no one. I agree that a little courtesy goes a long way. Once, doing touch and goes at a neighboring airport with a longer runway than mine, I was on downwind (announced) when a rental Cessna with a very weak radio (thought he was a lot farther away) cut into the downwind on a proper 45. Only problem was he was maybe 100 yard ahead of me in a slower plane. Rather than chew him out on the frequency, I slowed down and extended my downwind to let him land. I'm not going to fight over right of way in an airplane.

Posted by: John Worsley | April 14, 2013 5:58 PM    Report this comment

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