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13 Answers

Standard TPA

Asked by: 7183 views
General Aviation

How does one determine traffic pattern altitude if one is not listed in the A/F D? For instance, I am planning to practice arrivals/departures at I66 (Clinton Field) but can't seem to determine this.

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13 Answers

  1. JamesCFI on Nov 30, 2011

    1000′ AGL
     Your instructor should have covered this VERY early on BTW

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  2. Warren Saxon on Nov 30, 2011

    My original instructor was hired by an airline early in my training, so it looks to be an overlooked detail.  In the meanwhile, I did manage to find help on the AOPA site. 

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  3. Earl Kessler on Nov 30, 2011

    I just downloaded an ap on my iphone sponsored by AOPA and powered by Foreflight for free that is an A/FD and includes TPAs or traffic pattern altitudes. Some of them are at 1000′ agl and some are 800′. You can also get this info in the official A/FD or if you have the Flight Guide, this also shows the TPA.

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  4. JamesCFI on Dec 01, 2011

     Whenever you go to a airport you are going to fly your pattern at 1k AGL, when you fly over midfield to check the sock and runway out you are going to fly 500′ above TPA (i.e. 1500 AGL) then decend into your downwind.
     You shouldnt need a app to figure this one out, field elivation + 1000′ = TPA (field elivation is on your chart as well as if the runways are left or right pattern).
     You should be able to fly to a airport on your chart and get all the vital info for that airport (elivation, runway length, lights?, fuel, controlled or not, hard surface or not, TPA, L or R traffic, frequiencies) from a quick glance of your sectional. 
    All those Apps, AFDs, GPS  and whatnot are great for planning but you should be able to do this on the fly with only your sectional.
     I suguest you invest in the King School DVDs, or if you are on a budget buy “From the Ground Up” and read it (make sure you get the US edition), also you should have a current FAR/AIM for reference.
     Whatever airline that CFI got on with, I wouldnt fly on it lol

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  5. Matthew Waugh on Dec 01, 2011

    JamesCFI advice is not, technically, correct. The FAA recommends 1,000 AGL “unless established otherwise” – and if it has been established otherwise it’ll be published in all those documents that JamesCFI has such disdain for.
    Is anybody going to die if you always use 1,000 AGL – seems unlikely – but keep checking that published TPA (if available), at least it’ll save you from looking like a dork to the locals.

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  6. Wes Beard on Dec 01, 2011

    Reference for “1,000′ AGL is recommended pattern altitude unless established otherwise” is AIM 4-3-3.  For others who may be reading this thread. 

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  7. Kris Kortokrax on Dec 01, 2011

    1.  There is no regulatory requirement to maintain a certain traffic pattern altitude.  Only a requirement to make left (or right in some cases) turn for airplanes when approaching to land. (91.126(b), which is incorporated by reference in 91.127, 91.129, 91.130 and 91.131)
    2.  1000 feet is recommended unless otherwise established (see A/FD, yes it is a valid reference, sectional does not show traffic pattern altitudes).
    3.  91.129(d) requires turbine-powered airplanes to maintain 1500 AGL in the pattern in Class D.
    4.  AIM Paragraph 4-3-3 and 91.129(d) state that the pattern altitude should be maintained unless otherwise required by cloud clearance requirements.
    One size does not fit all.  Depends on what you are flying and where you are flying it and the weather where you are flying.

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  8. JamesCFI on Dec 01, 2011

    When did I say I had disdain for AFDs???????
      Sometimes I really think I must be speaking swahili or something.
     I believe I said for -planning- purposes the AFD, GPS, Apps etc are great.
     Now if you are going to reroute to another airport at the last minute for XYZ reasons it’s safer to glance at  the info on your chart instead of trying to fly the airplane, flip through the AFD (or play with your phone), etc, etc. 

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  9. Earl Kessler on Dec 02, 2011

    Let me suggest that if you blindly fly your low wing at 1000′ because your instructor says always fly 1000′ and leave the A/FD in the back seat, and some Piper Cub driver flys the correct TPA at my home field of KCXP, a dangerous situation exists.  The Cub has no radio or electrical system and doesn’t make radio calls.  The low wing driver descends to land and has a mid-air meeting with the Cub, who he never saw or heard. I would suggest that it isn’t dumb to use all available information, such as the A/FD, AOPA Ap, Flight Guide or similar to find out what the pattern altitude is for safety reasons, not just pride.

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  10. JamesCFI on Dec 04, 2011

    ”  I believe I said for -planning- purposes the AFD, GPS, Apps etc are great.”

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  11. JamesCFI on Dec 04, 2011

    I would hope you could see another aircraft in the pattern even if it was +/- 200′ of your altitude!
       Most low wing aircraft are significantly faster then a cub in the pattern, a cub with no radio shadowing a PA28 or something throughout the entire pattern is not a realistic or likely situation IMHO
     Who said it was dumb or a pride-killer to use a AFD????

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  12. Beau D on Jul 03, 2012

    Also the AIM states that you may fly at an altitude other than the published TPA if you need to in order to maintain VFR/ CLoud distances. Don’t recommend that, but that is an option available to you 😀 AIM4-3-3

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  13. Cub Driver on Aug 17, 2013

    The claim that the TPA is always 1000′ if not otherwise stated in the A/FD is not necessarily true. At Red Stewart Airfield (40I), which is not far from I66, the TPA used by local traffic is only 845′ AGL (1800 MSL), a fact not published in the A/FD.

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