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Thread: Landing - or, rather, traffic - patterns....

  1. #1

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    Landing - or, rather, traffic - patterns....

    Like almost everybody, I was trained on the standard rectangular traffic and landing pattern.

    It's predictable - great for avoidance, as one knows where to look for other planes.
    It's easy to learn - it's, again, predictable.
    It's easy to test - see the two above.

    For big ol' fast aircraft like a C172 or a Baron it still makes sense.

    For my tiny little slow aircraft, though, I took some advice from a zillion hour Air Force pilot and turned those two corners into one big half circle.

    Okay, not so big for me, but the turn to base and the turn to final are one continuous turn. In my biplane I can keep an eye on the runway the whole time and adjust as needed.

    The FAA is looking into this as well, as they think it may solve some of the infamous turn-to-final-spin crashes.

    Now, then, though I could fly a really close in pattern, I still follow the standard pattern altitude and distances on the downwind, and make two calls on that half circle - one for turn to base, and one for final. It is a bit shorter for this than a lot of folks, but I'm only doing 45-50 miles an hour.

    Your thoughts?
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    I think you're right on, there. I've heard of other aircraft using this circling approach for visibility reasons, usually, like you, for visibility reasons. I like your conventional "base" and "final" calls as well, despite their not being discrete entities. The call is to help people figure out where to look. If you told them the truth most would be confused anyway.

    I still fly a conventional rectangular pattern, but I'm an ol' squarehead who pays $5 for haircuts ($1 per side). I fly downwind at the "conventional" distance, but when possible, do cut base and final pretty short.

    When using the CTAF at my home field, I often give a geographical reference to my base/final position, too.... "turning base 1/2 out," "turning base over Fred Meyer," "Short final over Lowes'", etc.

    Ron Wanttaja

  3. #3
    gbrasch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post

    When using the CTAF at my home field, I often give a geographical reference to my base/final position, too.... "turning base 1/2 out," "turning base over Fred Meyer," "Short final over Lowes'", etc.

    Ron Wanttaja
    Recent AOPA safety seminars have been very critical of that practice. Pilots from other areas don't know "Fred Meyer".
    Glenn Brasch
    Tucson, Arizona
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  4. #4
    I use a circular approach flying the Citabria when no one else is flying like today, 900' ceiling, flying downwind at 500', or when going into little grass strips.

  5. #5

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    As noted previously, in a lot of biplanes a continuous 180 turn from downwind to flare allows keeping the runway in sight. In my Pitts S-2A, if I try to fly straight in, an entire 6000'x150' runway will disappear under the nose. Have to fly down final crabbed if a tower needs a rectangular pattern. In formation, we fly a 1 mile initial leg over the final at pattern altitude then break at the numbers into 360 overhead turns to flare. Gets multiple airplanes on the ground fast and easy.

    The airport is where everyone converges. Slow, fast, small, big, talking, and nordo. Have to keep the Mark 1 eyeballs watching out for the other folks.

    Best of luck,

    Wes

  6. #6
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbrasch View Post
    Recent AOPA safety seminars have been very critical of that practice. Pilots from other areas don't know "Fred Meyer".
    I understand, and do feel a bit peeved when I fly somewhere else and they make similar local calls.

    However, if it's a choice between giving no position information vs. precise location, I'd prefer the precision. My field has a very active helicopter training operation, and I'd just as soon the 2-3 R-22s in the pattern have a better idea of where I'm at...and vice-versa, since they tend to fly closer patterns. I'd just as soon let them know I'm NOT on a 2-mile final like the other fixed-wing traffic they commonly cut off.

    Denying what might be useful information to locally-based aircraft in the pattern because the rare visitor might not "get it" doesn't seem logical.

    I also tend to give distances (e.g, "turning base about a half-mile out", "On a three-quarter mile final") but peoples' abilities to judge ranges varies too much.....

    Ron "Oh, and it got your weight wrong, too" Wanttaja

  7. #7

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    The helicopter should be flying a different pattern or no pattern that avoids the airplanes.

  8. #8
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Berson View Post
    The helicopter should be flying a different pattern or no pattern that avoids the airplanes.
    They don't at my field. Same pattern as fixed wing, except slightly closer-in than many) and slightly lower. In addition:

    1. The instructors in the helicopters turn off their radios when the frequency is busy, as they claim it is too distracting. Their management has defended this practice, in writing, to the airport board.

    2. The instructors have claimed, on the radio, that they have priority over "weekend pilots" (their term) and thus can perform hover instruction on the sole runway for minutes at a time. "Our students are paying thousands of dollars for instruction......"

    Don't get me started about helicopters.....

    Ron "Fox Two" Wanttaja
    Last edited by rwanttaja; 03-26-2018 at 12:53 PM.

  9. #9

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    It seems some helicopter schools ignore 91.126.

  10. #10
    I'm a weekend pilot who flies just about every day weather permits. I try to get out of the way of pilots flying for a purpose.

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