Re: Pattern Flying and Reports

Bruce Crain

Amen Jon! And I second the motion! Maybe a CD on proper pattern transmissions would help when folks start learning to fly. That would be of great value. Then perhaps a bantering back and forth with their instructor while flying a toy airplane into a class B, C, and D airspace would be of efficacious also. "Honey Lamb" and I were almost run over at Oshkosh (of all places for a novice to enter) by a Baron when he entered the pattern totally with out the NOTAMs. He just barreled his way straight in from no where and then pulled over into our final approach. The tower didn't see him enter straight in from the south and cut us off our base leg. Then they moved him over to our side (2 runways). He keyed the mic and said "but there is a plane over there" and then he pulled over and we moved over to avoid being run down by him. The tower had obviously not seen us either as they said "good job Baron". If Joanne had not seen him from her side we would have been toast. Pattern work, see and avoid, a radio transmissions are of much more importance than we know. If you don't know how to communicate (and listen) get some help. Someone is out there that can help.Bruce ---------- Original Message ----------
From: "Jon Finley" <jon@...>
To: <Q-LIST@...>
Subject: [Q-LIST] Pattern Flying and Reports
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2010 08:44:30 -0700

Hi all,

This sounds like a gripe-session but I really do not mean it that way.
Perhaps this is the CFI in me coming out - I dunno. If any of you fall into
these scenario's, I hope that you will think about it and that perhaps it
will affect your flying practices.

A nearby airport had a pancake breakfast this past Saturday. Judging from
the radio traffic, it was quite busy so I flew around for awhile just
listening and enjoying the air before approaching/landing. I very
definitely get spoiled with VERY little traffic in the pattern (at most of
the airports that I frequent) or I know the guys flying and know what they
are going to do.

Based on what I observed at this fly-in, I'd like to remind everyone of a
couple things:

1. Accurate position reports are SUPER important.

2. Ideally, you should always be within gliding distance of the runway
while in the pattern.

3. Listen.

The second one is no big deal cause I like flying, an extra 5 minutes in the
air is nothing. The trouble starts when there are several of us in the
pattern all trying to slow down and do 360's - ya got airplanes flying all
over the place. I am amazed at the patterns that some people fly (and it
seems they were taught to fly that way). I understand that lots of traffic
will mess this up and that larger, faster airplanes do require more space.
The classic here is the CT that likes to fly downwind two miles out from the
runway and three miles past the approach end out before turning base, all
while doing about 40 kts (feels like it). A week or two ago, I was calling
5 miles out (entering on the upwind) while this person was calling downwind.
Knowing what was going to happen, I slowed down but still had to fly THREE
360's on downwind for spacing. It is worth noting that there is another CT
here that does not cause any problems. There are also a number of
"ultralights" that cause nearly zero traffic disruption (they keep their
speed up and keep the pattern tight).

The first one was a bit of a surprise to me as I haven't just sat back and
listened to radio chatter for that long of a period before. This particular
airport (E80) sits on a mesa, has an escarpment to the east AND west and
also has a river to the east AND west (both running north and south for many
miles). Many people were calling "three miles out over the
river/escarpment" or some variation. Given this situation, that report is
useless. Another kewl one was "Cessna xxx, abeam the numbers starting my
descent" - what?? What is that? Finally, "Cessna xxx, downwind for 22."
Sadly, there is no 22 at this airport and everyone was using 03 (yes, his
transmission stated that he was at "this" airport). I think most everyone
flies with a GPS these days and this makes position reports so easy (5 miles
northeast, 7500').

The nervous pilot is a classic, IMO. This fellow reports three miles north.
Another pilot then reports 5 miles east. The nervous pilot immediately
responds and asks the second pilot where he is. What?? He JUST told you!
Listening is as important as talking. Yes, I understanding missing someone
else's transmission and asking for clarification. This particular fellow
was asking EVERY airplane where they were after they reported where they
were!! Talk about messing up the radio traffic - he was doing it!

Out of curiosity, I noted some visual clues upon return to my home airport
(E98) and I measured the distance to these items from the runway threshold
using Google Earth. My typical (no traffic) downwind is .25 miles from the
runway, base is .5 miles from the runway. Even that tight , depending on
where the engine failure were to occur, and wind; my Q2 may or may not glide
to the runway.

A good test (no traffic, be careful, etc.) that you can perform to get an
idea if your patterns are overly large is to pull the power to idle when
abeam the numbers and fly your normal pattern (apply power when it is
obvious you are not going to make the runway/before impacting the ground).
If you make it to the numbers without power - NICE WORK - GOOD PATTERN!!

Jon Finley

N314JF - Q2 - Subaru EJ-22

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