Traffic pattern question at uncontrolled airport

Hobiehawker

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I have been out of general aviation for about 20 years and have recently returned to SEL VFR flying and have a question.

When approaching an uncontrolled airport from the other side of the pattern, what is the standard of approaching the traffic pattern. The AIM explains the best way is to enter on a 45 to downwind but I can't see exactly the best way to approach the 45 from the opposite side.

I have seen some fly overhead and then maneuver for the 45. I have seen some fly over head and descend to TPA while on downwind. And I have seen some enter on a crosswind then fly down wind.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your responses.
 

Lynxman

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Over the top 500ft above TPA tear drop around and enter the 45. Make standard call outs and explain what your going to be doing. Lastly keep your head on a swivel.
 

avbug

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Hobie,

At an uncontrolled field, your only obligation is to make all turns to the left (unless right hand turns published for that runway).

Approaching the pattern 500' high and descending into the pattern via a teardrop turn puts you descending into traffic, or descending into traffic approaching the airport.

You can just as easily approach at pattern altitude and enter a crosswind, or perform a midfield crosswind entry. Either works.
 

Lynxman

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Descending into it will allow you to see the other traffic though.
 

Lynxman

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You can just as easily approach at pattern altitude and enter a crosswind, or perform a midfield crosswind entry. Either works.
You could do this but I don't think its safe to be going head on into the Traffic pattern in the case of the midfield crosswind. Winds could blow a departing a/c right into a head on collision. The other instance is a bit unsafe what if your in a low wing and a departing high wing took off might be kinda hard to see him and he could be doing god knows what since he just took off an might not be looking for traffic. Plus the advantage of over the top allows you to scope out for traffic, wind sock if there is no AWOS/ASOS, condition of runway and taxiways etc. etc. I think it be safer to descend into traffic than potentially go head on with it. To each their own. Fly safe!
 

avbug

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Descending into it will allow you to see the other traffic though.
Descending into a pattern is a bad, idea.
 

VW Pilot

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I agree with bug....I was taught to never descend into the pattern. You can over fly the field at plus 500 but remember the pattern alt. for corporate jets and turboprops....1500ft. Be on the look out for them as well. Above all, keep your eyes peeled and your head swiveling, ears wide open and always announce your positions....more than once because some might not hear you or some are just entering the uncontrolled area. Over flying midfield and entering the downwind is ok. However I would only do this when traffic is sparse or non at all....Or you could over fly at twice the TPA and make your tear drop at least 5 miles away from the pattern and return for a 45 entry. Some enter at crosswind but this is a potentialy dangerous place to be because you could have traffic exiting the pattern or traffic on upwind. You can do this, just be aware of the traffic around you and keep annoucing your positions and intensions. Any entry method can work but there are recommendations from the AIM....Best bet is to use those....
 
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Princedietrich

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Descending into a traffic pattern is more than a bad idea, it's a very effective way of getting yourself killed. If you're in a low-wing airplane (like a piper or a beech) it's even worse of an idea because you can't see what's under you, and if there's a high-wing airplane (like a cessna) under you they can't see you coming. Best thing to do is enter 45 degree on the downwind or on the upwind and make all turns to the left. If in doubt of the pattern turns or the active runway, overfly at TPA +500 to check the windsock and the pattern indicator. Then get the heck away from the airport, at least a couple miles, go down to TPA and then join up.
 

Hobiehawker

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This is all great stuff.

I am thinking if its busy, fly 1000' above pattern altitude (avoiding turbine aircraft) and descend a couple miles from the airport and enter the forty five for downwind.

If traffic is sparse or non-existent, if you can get the wind off of ASOS or AWOS, enter an upwind, x-wind, downwind pattern.

Bottom line, keep the communication going as to your location, altitude and intentions.

Any more ideas or opinions?
 

Lynxman

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What I mean is descend in the teardrop around and then enter the 45 sry for the confusion.
 

Amish RakeFight

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Descending into it will allow you to see the other traffic though.
Bad idea. Never decend in the pattern. Be at TPA approximately 3 miles from the field.

To the OP:

I would over fly closer to 1K over the field or just maneuver to the other side well outside of the terminal area. Ideally, you should plan to arrive on the correct side while still enroute.

Keep in mind that not everyone will be conforming to VFR left traffic. When someone is practicing an instrument approach, they may be coming from various directions and towards a runway other than the active one. Knowing what approaches are available helps.

Also, no radio required for some AC at uncontrolled fields so don't rely too much on the radio calls. Not often but enough to be concerned.
 

pilotyip

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I teach a mid field cross wind at pattern altitude, turn left into the downwind. This is of course done without conflicting with other traffic.
 

A-Track

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No matter what always keep your eyes open. I've seen a lot of people that have radios but rarely use them. I know you legally don't have to but come on if you got it use it.
 

avbug

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Radio use is fine, but don't look for traffic with the radio. See and avoid is the law; it's not merely a suggestion.
 

VW Pilot

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Well Hawker that is about all you can do unless you fly away or to controlled environments. Even in a controlled environment, the pilot in command is still responsible for seeing and avoiding traffic when in VMC or VFR weather. If you can remember back to your first lessons or if you go and read the AIM, ...there are no regulations on entry methods......just recommendations via the AIM. It isn't even required to transmit on the radio...but what's legal isn't necessarily safe....you will hear that alot...Here is another idea. Fly with a safety pilot. The extra person on board can help in listening and watching for other traffic. Also don't hesitate to refresh yourself with a fresh copy of the FAR/AIM and read all regulations pertaining to your operations/license. Oh yeah. If you have been out of aviation for 20 years and want to get back into flying, make sure you have met the requirements to stay current and have completed all Flight reviews. If you add another rating like and instument rating, that counts as a flight review. Oh and one more thing. You should query traffic. Example: "Vandenberg traffic, Cherokee 16DA is 5 miles north of the airport, we'll be entering left downwind for rwy 5, any traffic advise, Vandenberg traffic". Query by adding "Any Traffic Advise". Welcome Back.
 
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Amish RakeFight

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Oh and one more thing. You should query traffic. Example: "Vandenberg traffic, Cherokee 16DA is 5 miles north of the airport, we'll be entering left downwind for rwy 5, any traffic advise, Vandenberg traffic". Query by adding "Any Traffic Advise". Welcome Back.
That's a big NO-NO.
 

Amish RakeFight

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AIM 4-1-9(g)1

g. Self-Announce Position and/or Intentions
1. General.Self-announce is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF. This procedure is used primarily at airports which do not have an FSS on the airport. The self-announce procedure should also be used if a pilot is unable to communicate with the FSS on the designated CTAF. Pilots stating, "Traffic in the area, please advise" is not a recognized Self-Announce Position and/or Intention phrase and should not be used under any condition.
 
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