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2 Answers

Traffic Pattern

Asked by: 1665 views Airspace, FAA Regulations


When approaching (VFR only) an uncontrolled airport, at how many miles from the airport should you already be established at the proper traffic pattern altitude prior to entering the traffic pattern?





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2 Answers

  1. Ernest R Ortner III on Mar 21, 2013

    That is to be determined by the pilot. If you choose to descend to pattern altitude at 10NM out and it can be done safely than it can be done. As far as the AIM states it is ideal to be at pattern altitude before entering the pattern. Right of way rules start to take effect in the pattern that whoever is lower in altitude has the right of way, not to be used to take advantage of a situation. The field I got my private license at it was common practice to descend to PA while on the 45. Some might say you should already be established by that point. It is also a point that if you are going to an uncontrolled field with no weather equipment and no traffic you should over fly the field 500′ above traffic pattern altitude to figure winds and the pattern for that airport. Then descend while maneuvering for a 45 entry into the pattern for the runway you are going to land on. There are no regulatory requirements for this situation. As a disclaimer I am not a CFI, so you don’t have to take my answer to the bank.

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  2. Bob Watson on Mar 22, 2013

    I try to plan my descent so that I’m at the TPA when I enter the 45. My feeling is that when I report “on the 45” and “on downwind,” that’s where other people in the pattern will be looking.

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