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3 Answers

Entering Traffic Pattern

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General Aviation

It's been 44 years since I obtain my private pilot cert and flow my last flight. Now retired, I want to fly again and working on becoming current..

Here's the question:

Say I am 15 miles due west of an airport who's active runway is 13 and I am told to "enter left downwind".

That would be on the opposite side of the airport.  Do I fly directly over the airport to enter the pattern?

What is the proper way to enter this pattern?


3 Answers

  1. Brent on Jun 30, 2012

    Since you mentioned being told to enter the left downwind, I assume your scenario involves a towered airport? If so, you’re unlikely to get such a clearence. The controller would probably give instructions similar to “continue in for right based to 13” or some such. If I got the confusing clearence you described from ATC, I would ask for clarification.
    At a non-towered airport, with a left pattern for 13, you have to get to the other side of the airport somehow. If you’re already at TPA, you’ll probably have to do a crosswind leg at the departure end of the airport, being mindful of any landing or departing traffic. Otherwise, I would cross above the airport at midfield at least 1000 feet above the pattern and use a descending right turn to enter the downwind at a 45 degree angle.

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  2. Tim on Jun 30, 2012

    Yes – it was a towered airport.
    Actually, I encountered the situation in MS FlightSimulator and did not know how to proceed.
    Your answer has cleared things up – Thank you.

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  3. Wes Beard on Jul 01, 2012

    Here is a reference for you to use: AIM 4-3-3.
    After such a long time not flying you will find many things different than in 1968.  My suggestion would be to read the Pilots Handbook of Knowledge and the AIM except for the parts dealing with IFR procedures.

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