Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

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Dave Higdon
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:02 pm

Re: Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

Postby Dave Higdon » Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:15 pm

PropFan wrote:Dave, a follow-up question:

Suppose you're arriving from the NE for landing on 18. Do you swing around to the south a few miles out so you can still enter the downwind on a 45? The only other option would seem to be a straight-in approach which, I know, is disfavored.

(This isn't so hypothetical, as I plan to fly down from Kansas City to Augusta (3AU) this Saturday and, given the prevailing winds, expect to land on 18.)


Man, sorry to have missed responding before it was useful...but you got some interesting advice, anyway...

My trips in from my Indiana hometown always brought me in from ENE on about a 260, 263 heading...coming down from MCI, when the winds at 3AU favored RW 18 (most of the time :roll: ) was more like what you asked about...for Augusta, however, the winds made no difference to my arrival habits coming from the east, NE, due East, SE, whatever...

August's pattern is always on the East side -- it's left traffic for 18, right for 36...so it was easy to develop a solution for the east and it basically followed the practice described above...if the pattern was really busy, I'd swing through the WANDY intersection (think that's the spelling...) I'd swing farther south to enter on a 45 for 18, or swing farther north to enter on the 45 for 36...

Coming from the West, always crossed midfield at pattern altitude and enter the downwind from there, with the exception being on Flight Following with a lot of traffic and Wichita Approach might send me around...usually due to instrument traffic...

FWIW...hope you had a good visit...


Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:31 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

Postby PropFan » Mon Aug 24, 2009 7:30 am

Thanks for the diagram, PilotBill. It's essentially what my CFI later recommended -- only, as you say, with wider turns and sufficient distance from the airport to avoid traffic in the pattern. Didn't get to practice this, though, as the winds ended up favoring 36.

Dave, for a moment, I thought perhaps I had overshot 3AU and was landing at Dead Cow because, as you may recall, there is a pond right at the threshhold of 36 and, on Saturday, it was serving as the local bovine watering- and swimming-hole. My desire not to turn some of those heifers into prop-chopped hamburger caused me to approach a little high and land a little roughly, but at least we didn't up with a real dead cow!


Dave Higdon
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:02 pm

Re: Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

Postby Dave Higdon » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:22 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: ...caused a good chuckle here, PropFan...know what you mean about the 36 approach...but you may not have noticed another element that can throw off infrequent users at 3AU...

The runway slopes downhill to the south so you were approaching a threshold lower than the rest of the runway; the peak is just south of dead center -- and, worth a little caution over, you can't see one end of the runway from the other...FWIW...


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Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 4:58 pm
Location: Southern NJ

Re: Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

Postby fordan » Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:49 pm

Personally, I'd fly further south than PilotBill's diagram indicates in order to enter on a true 45 (not sure if that's what he meant by not as steep). I've had a pilot fly almost exactly what PilotBill drew while I was in the pattern, and it scared the heck out of me to suddenly (I didn't see him until late, the CFI I was with didn't see him, and I don't think he saw me) have another plane at my altitude apparently on a nearly head-to-head course with me. We both jinked to the right and he swung in behind me in the pattern, but it was fun. Really.

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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan KAZO KBTL and KGRR

Re: Entering an Unfamiliar Traffic Pattern

Postby LimaBravo » Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:43 pm

in regards to pilotbill's diagram, my questions would be:

1. if rcigliano is unfamiliar (as the post states) wouldn't we be taught to fly an upwind leg, crosswind, downwind, base, final?
2. if he monitors traffic 30 out (Dave H), and knows the pattern is clear, he is super familiar with terrain (not night etc...), familiar with aircraft, wouldn't a straight in then be ok??

I haven't had any formal CFI work (outside of my biannual's) for a while, so not sure if there are new patterns being taught. So I found this really interesting. Great posts !!


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