We will reopen at 8:30 AM ET on Monday, November 30, 2020. There are two approved ways to enter the pattern at a non-towered airport (the one on the left is my personal preferred method, especially in a high wing airplane). The best way for other pilots to spot you visually—thereby reducing the risk of midair collisions in the pattern—is by flying a proper rectangular traffic pattern at the designated pattern altitude and announcing your position accurately to other traffic. He has been an active Gold Seal flight instructor since 1972. It often depends on two things: where you are located relative to the active runway, and spacing with other traffic. Instead, when a downwind leg entry is not logical, consider entering on a 45-degree angle to the upwind, crosswind, or even the base leg as a better, safer solution, all while announcing your position and intentions to other traffic. Airport Traffic Patterns. Knowing what to expect and visualizing this plan in advance is a great aid to your situational awareness in the tower-controlled environment. Remember that you are entering an active traffic pattern, so preference should be given to existing traffic while you merge into their traffic pattern. Bob Schmelzer is a Chicago-area designated pilot examiner, a United Airlines captain, and Boeing 777 line check airman. When it’s time to depart the pattern, remember that there are only two accepted options for this: fly straight out from the departure runway until above the pattern altitude, or fly straight out to pattern altitude followed by a 45-degree turn to the left (or right, if in a right-hand pattern), while continuing to climb above traffic pattern altitude before turning on course. Determine in advance the traffic pattern altitude and whether any of the runways utilize a right-hand traffic pattern. Get the latest news on coronavirus impacts on general aviation, including what AOPA is doing to protect GA, event cancellations, advice for pilots to protect themselves, and more. For turbojets, the standard is 1500 ft AGL. 9.1 Left Traffic.Use of standard traffic patterns (left turns) for all aircraft and CTAF procedures by radio-equipped aircraft are required at all airports without operating control towers unless indicated otherwise by visual markings, light gun signals, airport publications, or published approach procedure. FAA Advisory Circular 90-66b. quick dive to the ground to be like “Haha, now I’m lower, move out of my way”, we frown upon this in aviation). (2) Airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft. After crossing over midfield and observing the traffic from above, you then make a descending right turn to form a “teardrop” entry to the pattern, joining the left downwind on a 45 degree angle and at pattern altitude. Please login below for an enhanced experience. However, do not assume that just because you don’t hear other traffic that you are truly alone. Since other pilots might have the same idea at the same time, you could find yourself on a converging collision course with other aircraft over the airport, all approaching from any of 360 different directions at your altitude—while each pilot looks down at the runway or the windsock, instead of where he or she is headed. The purpose behind this maneuver is to both give you better sight and separation between aircraft, as well as make it easy for you to turn right out of the left downwind, if someone was already established on it and you needed to yield to them (you are always supposed to yield to airplanes already established in the pattern, or any airplane established on final to land. You will impress your pilot examiner by applying these simple, basic rules during your checkride. Tower controllers’ objectives are to get you to the active runway in the safest, most expeditious, and and most efficient manner possible. Instead, to maintain adequate spacing with the traffic ahead, simply widen your pattern, reduce speed, or simply go around and try it again.