It might seem very basic, but having a good understanding of how to fly the traffic pattern and land at a non-towered airport is extremely important. Why? According to the NTSB, in 2012, over 41% of all general aviation accidents happened in the approach and landing phases of flight.

    The Basics

    At a tower-controlled airport, ATC is in charge of the flow of traffic. And while you're still responsible to "see and avoid" other aircraft, tower control does a good job of keeping airplanes at a safe distance from each other.

    But when you're flying into a non-towered airport, it's up to you and other pilots to stay sequenced and remain at a safe distance from each other.

    Before we go too far, let's take a quick look at the different legs of a traffic pattern:

    Turning Left

    Standard traffic pattern turns are always to the left, unless the airport specifies it otherwise.

    How would you know if an airport or runway has right-turn patterns? It will be marked on the VFR sectional, the A/FD, and if the airport has it, the traffic pattern indicator located around the windsock.

    Approaching A Non-Towered Airport

    Let's start with the example of approaching a non-towered airport to land. According to the AIM, when you're 10 miles out from the airport, you should start monitoring the airport's CTAF frequency. This is also when you want to make your first radio call to let other airplanes know your intentions.

    What Altitude Should You Fly At?

    So what altitude should you fly at as you approach the airport? It depends on what you plan to do.

    In some cases, may want to overfly the airport before you enter the traffic pattern. Why would want to do that? It's a good way to check the airport and runway conditions, and to see if other airplanes are operating at the airport (they may not be using the CTAF frequency). Finally, if the airport doesn't have an automated weather reporting station (like ASOS), overflying is a good way to check out the windsock and make sure you're choosing the best runway to land on.

    If you do overfly the airport, you'll want to do it at 500-1000 feet above the traffic pattern. And while you're overflying, you also want to make radio calls on CTAF, announcing your current position, as well as what you're planning to do.

    45-Degree Traffic Pattern Entry

    When you've decided which runway is the one you're going to land on, the next step is to position your airplane for a downwind leg entry, descend to traffic pattern altitude, and get ready to enter the pattern.

    First, though, you need to know what the traffic pattern altitude is for the airport your landing at. That's usually a pretty easy number to remember. The standard traffic pattern altitude is 1,000 feet above the airport elevation. However, that's not always the case. To be sure, you can find the traffic pattern altitude for most airports in the A/FD.

    Once you're at the right altitude, how should you enter the pattern? By flying at a 45-degree angle to the downwind leg, while aiming for the mid-point of the runway. At the same time, you should make a radio call, letting other traffic in the area know where you are, and what you're doing.

    So why do you fly a 45-degree angle to enter the downwind leg? By flying at an angle, it gives you (and others) good visibility to any other airplanes in the traffic pattern. And if you do see another airplane near you, it's easy to turn away from the airport, circle around, and make your 45-degree entry again.

    Downwind Leg

    When you get within 1/2 to 1 mile out from the runway you're planning to land on, it's time to turn downwind.

    When you make the turn to downwind, there are a few things you need to do. First, you want to make sure you're flying at the right speed. This obviously depends on the aircraft you're in, but for example, if you're flying a Cessna 172, your downwind leg is generally flown at 90 knots (remember, check your POH!)

    However, if there are other planes in the traffic pattern, you'll want to try to match their speed (if you safely can), so you aren't rapidly gaining or falling behind the other aircraft as you're flying your trip around the pattern.

    Next up, you need to add wind correction if there's any crosswind. Your goal is to fly parallel to the runway, without getting any closer or further away, the entire time you're on downwind. If you can maintain a consistent distance from the runway every time, it makes flying the pattern, and nailing your landing, much easier.

    Last, you want to make another radio call, letting anyone monitoring CTAF know that you're on the downwind leg, and what runway you're planning to land on. As you make radio calls in the traffic pattern, it's a good idea to state your specific location. Instead of saying "Boulder traffic, Cessna Skyhawk N9525V is on a downwind for runway 26," add that you're on a "left downwind for runway 26." If you're flying a right pattern, say that you're on a right downwind, right base, etc. This will better help pilots in the area visualize your location.

    Abeam The Touchdown Point

    When you're abeam the touchdown point on your downwind leg, it's time to start your descent to land.

    You start your descent by reducing the throttle, adding flaps, and pitching down to maintain your airspeed. Again, all airplanes are different, but in a Cessna 172, this usually means reducing the throttle to roughly 1500-1600 RPMs, adding 10 degrees of flaps, and pitching for 90 knots.

    Base Leg

    When you're approximately 45-degrees from the touchdown point, it's time to make your base leg turn. You do it by entering a medium-banked turn until you're flying a perpendicular track to the runway. Remember, you want your ground track to be perpendicular to the runway, so if there's wind, you'll need to add some crab angle to make sure you aren't drifting away from the runway.

    The base leg is the transition part of the traffic pattern, and it helps you set up your approach so you hit your intended landing point. In most airplanes, you'll continue to slow the aircraft and add flaps on your base leg as well. For example, in a Cessna 172, you'll generally add your second notch of flaps, and slow down to 80 knots. You also want to make a radio call, letting everyone know you're on the base leg to your runway.

    Your base leg is also your last chance to take a good look at the final approach leg, and make sure there's no traffic on final before you start your turn to the runway. And when you're looking at the final approach for traffic, make sure you look both ways (left and right), to make sure there aren't any aircraft on a long straight-in final.

    Final Approach Leg

    As you start to approach the extended centerline of the runway, you'll start your medium banked base-to-final turn toward the runway. If you time it right (this is one of the more challenging things in flying) you'll roll out of your turn perfectly on the centerline.

    As you roll out on final, you also continue to slow the aircraft and add flaps. Again, every aircraft is different, but in the Cessna 172S, the POH recommends slowing to 61 knots at 50 feet above the runway when you're using full flaps.

    What if your airplane doesn't have a recommended final approach speed? The FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook recommends 1.3 X Vso, which in the Cessna 172S, turns out to be 52 knots (40 knots Vso X 1.3 = 52 knots).

    Once you're established on final, you'll make your radio call letting everyone know you're on final.

    Then, simply bring the airplane all the way to the runway , reduce the power, and with a little practice, grease your airplane onto the pavement.

    Ready to start your airline career? Want to fly an E-170/175? Get started and apply to Republic Airways today.

    Which is the correct traffic pattern departure procedure to use at an airport?
    When approaching an airport for landing, the traffic pattern is normally entered at a 45° angle to the downwind leg, headed toward a point abeam the midpoint of the runway to be used for landing. more
    What is the standard direction of turns in the traffic pattern give an example of a visual display indicating a nonstandard traffic pattern?
    What is the standard direction of turns in the traffic pattern? Give an example of a visual display indicating a nonstandard traffic pattern. The standard direction of turns in the traffic pattern is that the pilot should make all turns in the pattern to the left. more
    What is the rule regarding pattern operations at an airport within Class G airspace?
    Unless otherwise authorized or required, each person operating an aircraft on or in the vicinity of an airport in a Class G airspace area must comply with the requirements of this section. (2) Each pilot of a helicopter or a powered parachute must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft. more
    What is the recommended entry position to an airport traffic pattern?
    The recommended entry position to an airport traffic pattern is to enter 45° at the midpoint of the downwind leg at traffic pattern altitude. more
    What radio calls are recommended in the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport?
    Radio calls on CTAF to announce presence and intentions. What radio calls are recommended as you approach and fly in the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport? On CTAF, announce who you are and your location, announce your legs in the pattern (downwind, base, final). more
    Which is the correct traffic pattern departure procedure to use at a non-towered airport?
    Non-Towered Airports The preferred method for entering from the downwind leg side of the pattern is to approach the pattern on a course 45° to the downwind leg and join the pattern at midfield. There are several ways to enter the pattern if you are coming from the upwind legs side of the airport. more
    What radio calls are recommended in the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport what radio calls are required at your airport?
    What radio calls are recommended in the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport? What, If any, radio communications are required. For each radio call state who the call is for, your tail number, where you are, and what your intentions are. more
    Which resource should you use to ensure you are arriving at the correct airport and runway?
    Remember, when identifying your landing surface, use all available resources to ensure the correct runway. These resources can include visual cues, such as terminals, hangars and taxiways. You can also gather visual cues from VFR charting products, such as terrain, roads and buildings. more
    How would you approach and enter the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport?
    First, by flying straight out on the runway heading for at least 2 nautical miles (nm). Or second, by making a 45-degree turn in the direction of the traffic pattern once reaching 500ft above ground level (AGL). more
    Which is the correct traffic pattern departure procedure to use at a non-towered airport?
    Non-Towered Airports The preferred method for entering from the downwind leg side of the pattern is to approach the pattern on a course 45° to the downwind leg and join the pattern at midfield. There are several ways to enter the pattern if you are coming from the upwind legs side of the airport. more
    Which one of the following airport component is responsible for air traffic control?
    Terminal controllers are responsible for providing all ATC services within their airspace. more

    Source: www.boldmethod.com

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