AVweb Rewind: How To Fly The Pattern Without Making An A%$&# of Yourself


In a moment of utter insanity, AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli thought he could actually produce an 11-minute animated video. This unfortunate jumble of pixels is the result. We are publishing it again in the hopes that a second airing will reveal a scintilla of redeeming social value. If it does not, the 11 minutes is lost forever. No refunds. You have been forewarned.

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  1. That was one of the best videos I have ever seen on ANY subject. Congrats Paul. It really made my day. Also, the music summed it all up perfectly.

  2. On one occasion back in 1967, I confess to having been a partial A%$&# in the pattern. Hmm, that feels better.

  3. I found this video amusing and informative. I believe that humor can improve remembering lessons learned. I’d enjoy more of these kinds of videos to teach/remind pilots of meaningful information.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. I always enjoy Paul’s writings and audios, but I’m not sure he’s cut out to be a professional video animator;>) I have three comments about this one: First, the old KX 170 is tuned to 121.5—not sure that’s the best frequency for routine position reports. Second, he says to use your aircraft type and color for self identification. From a distance, almost all aircraft appear white and you often can’t identify the trim color. Also, there may well be two or more “”white and blue Cessnas” in the pattern, which could lead to confusion. Further, AIM 4-1-9 seems pretty specific about using your type and n-number, not your color. Third, you might want to chill with the derogatory inferences of elderly pilots, unless you have good documentation that they cause more problems in the pattern than younger guys. At our local private airport, it’s the young and middle aged guys who cause the most problems, not the old geezers who’ve been flying for 50 years. And judging from your handsome visage, you may not be far behind on the maturity scale! I always look forward to your articles, so keep up the good work.

    • “First, the old KX 170 is tuned to 121.5—not sure that’s the best frequency for routine position reports.”

      It’s a joke son, I say it’s a joke. (Apologies to Foghorn Leghorn.)

  5. Crosswind entry off the departure end of the runway seems dangerous to me.

    What is “upwind” anyway? Over the runway, or parallel to the runway (which the FAA and handbooks and such call the “upwind leg)? Convention seems to use it for over the runway. Useful for other pilots to know where to look for that particular traffic.

    • Good point. Upwind is positioned parallel to the runway’s centerline and parallel to the departure leg.

  6. I think you missed one Paul. What about the pilots doing touch and go’s and training students during the busiest times (for our airport that’s 8am-12 noon Saturday). They are pretty much oblivious to traffic holding short burning up fuel or trying to fit into the pattern. Maybe you could work them in on the next version of your video.

  7. Even old guys with hearing loss wearing a noise canceling headset can hear OK. The rest maybe not so much! I’ll pass this along to my primary students. I appreciate the nod to the 1st Cav and the Hueys! That’s where I lost my hearing.

  8. In FL. it is not uncommon to see five 172s on downwind, all student pilots on a X country. The # 1 pilot speaking broken English and transmitting NO English, and the other four 172s following the lead acft. to a five mile final who can’t speak English at all. Next traffic pattern video please include the proper procedure on how to handle this scenario as I could not find it in the AIM. Being a Geezer pilot, this would help me a lot. Thanks, Geezer one Over and out.

  9. Paul B., you might talk with the OTHER Paul B. about whether merely mumbling something about ‘yellow highwing’ as you meander into the pattern or speak with ATC is sufficiently clear to be characterized as “communication”. The video is a humorous artsy-craftsy product. But, I won’t pass it along to prmary students. Paul Berge’s essay (the other and more credible ‘Paul B’) is at least as entertaining and his alternate take is more likely to keep a PIC from commiting a midair.

  10. How about “N1234B departing to the north LAST CALL”.
    Last Call? Where the heck did that come from? That radio call makes me scratch my head every time I hear it.

  11. Paul, I enjoyed this just as much 2nd time around. I’ll revisit my original comment again, too. Interested in your CFI response to our procedures. We were being vectored into your home drome from the Northwest over the bay, flying a Gulfstream G-280. Our normal pattern speed would be about 150 KIAS and final approach would be at about 135 with Vref of around 122. Normal pattern altitude would be typically 1500′ above field elevation. Sorry Maverick, the ‘pattern is full’, in this instance on runway 22 (now rwy 23) at slightly less than 5000′ in length. Our SOP required a minimum length of 5000′. Lots of Piper Indians and Cezznas motoring along on downwind at 70 knots; with the odd journo pilot Cubbing along at 60 mph. You can see our predicament trying to jump into the middle of this beehive from the opposite side of the pattern. We did a lot of straight in approaches at uncontrolled airports because I always felt it could be safer and more expeditious (less time spent in the beehive) than trying to mesh with slower airplanes at lower altitudes. So, the obvious choice for us was runway 13, which was slightly longer than 5000′. So-o-o…I started to make the first of no less than 6 or 7 calls from about 7 miles out–every mile on final a “G-280 jet straight in to runway 13”. Keeping an eye out on all those gnats and the odd Cub in the pattern, we were hoping that the CFI’s and the other pilots would give us some leeway and allow us on their turf. Well, sure enough, and not to my surprise, on short final after I announced for the 5th or 6th time G-280 on final for runway 13, a Cherokee starts his takeoff roll. In a slightly raised voice just shy of a full on yell, I asked him to abort his takeoff run, which he did, and we landed with slightly elevated blood pressure. So then, as we’re rolling out, he advises me that the active runway was 22. Not restaining my sarcasm, I told him that we could have landed on 22 but then we would have wound up in the bay. So, in the spirit of a Pilot Workshop reply, what would you have done under those circumstances?

    • I guess I’d have done the straight-in to 13, as you did. And numerous CTAF calls is about the only thing you can do to give a heads up and de-conflict. The fact is, there are lots of pilots around airports like ours who don’t have the first clue about situational awareness in the pattern. Even if they’re listening, they’re incapable of forming a picture.

      There’s talk about putting a tower in. Maybe that’s a necessary evil, although I question the investment and efficacy.

      And a minor point, the body of water you’re referring to as a “bay” is actually the Gulf of Mexico. Some people call it the “ocean” but it’s the Gulf. The bay would actually refer to the sound side, like Sarasota Bay.

      • Right you are, Paul. That was a glaring apparent error as I re-read after posting. I don’t see a way to edit after posting other than replying to myself. I’ve flown across that big ‘bay’ many times to Belize, Panama, and other points south.

    • I would start by reminding the other pilot that there is no such thing as an “active runway” at a non-towered airport.