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...Reference; ..Non-tower Over-flights; ...Controlling the Uncontrolled Airport; ..Non-tower Operation; Two Kinds of UNICOM; Automated Unicom; ...The Callup; ...Non-Tower Airport Arrival Procedures; ...Visual Indicators at Uncontrolled Airports ; Wind Sock; ...Uncontrolled Airport Traffic Patterns; ....Traffic Indicators; ...What I Dislike in This Option Is; ...Common Mistakes at Non-Tower Airports; ...Uncontrolled Airport Departures; Non-UNICOM Uncontrolled Airports; Ground Use of Lights; Ground Procedures at Non-Towered Airports; ...Basic Uncontrolled Airport Procedures; ...Leaving an Uncontrolled Airport; ...Your First contact with a Radar Facility; ...As You Near Your Destination; ...Non-Towered Airports with 122.9; ...Non-Tower Arrival with Frequency Other than 122.9;...Un-controlled Airport Positional Awareness; ... Procedures for Those Who Are Uncontrolled Airport Challenged; ...The Initial Call for Overhead Arrival (Rio Vista); ...
By sending a 9x11 envelope with 78 cents postage to
AOPA Air Safety Foundation
421 Aviation Way,
Frederick, Maryland 21701
or Downloading from ASF's pages on AOPA Online (www.aopa.org)
You can get a copy of material related to the safety considerations in operating at non-towered airports. The FAA has an advisory circular AC 91-66A available. Topics include pattern procedures, radio phraseology, right of way, etiquette, instrument procedures, and advice as to the relative merits of non-standard arrival and departure methods.
If you have occasion to cross in the vicinity of an uncontrolled airport, it is worth your while to monitor the CTAF frequency and even give sequential reports of your altitude and position in passing. Parachuting is becoming increasingly popular. Hang gliding, ultralights, and gliders can complete the mix of flying that make proximity hazardous. Recently flew near an airport used by parachutists well after dark. Seems they were having a party that night. They were parachuting at night as part of the festivities. You never know.
Before some of these activities take place the local radar facility is supposed to be advised. Making contact with this facility can warn you of what may be taking place. Jet aircraft and commuters are becoming more common. It is only through frequent communication that everyone flying can provide and maintain situational awareness. The radio call you make may save your life.
the Uncontrolled Airport
Regulatory provisions relating to traffic patterns are found in Parts 91, 93 and 97 of the FARs. ACs 90-42 and 90-66A are advisory for safety and efficiency. See-and-avoid requirement fully applies. All available information from AFD (Airport/Facilities Directory) AIM and NOTAMs is required by FAR. Use of Visual indicators (segmented circle, wind sock) must be used.
The straight-in approach to an uncontrolled airport is not, of itself, inherently dangerous. Straight in approaches, while not prohibited, must not be disruptive to normal pattern operations. Possible straight in approaches (as with instrument approaches) greatly increase see-and-be seen requirements. The straight-in eliminates the need to overfly and make a 45 entry. AC 90-66A advocates the 45 entry but indicates that the straight-in, IFR or VFR, should not require maneuvers that disrupt other traffic. FAR ,91.127(b) Says that all turns shall be to the left unless otherwise depicted. A straight-in requires no turns. NTSB Administrative Law Judges have found the straight in a violation of FAR 91.113.
Many uncontrolled airports may offer UNICOM service on the CTAF frequency given on the sectional. This means that there may be someone on the field to respond to a radio call during normal working hours.
Ideally aircraft operations at an uncontrolled airport are just as structured and organized as at controlled airports. Uncontrolled airport organization collapses when a pilot arrives who is not well versed in discerning airport procedures, decorum and communications. It only takes one confused pilot to create a chaotic airport.
Regardless of the Airspace class, if a tower is not operating it becomes an uncontrolled airport. The procedures at uncontrolled airports require that a pilot plan for and follow established procedures. Only by knowing the pattern altitude can you make an initial safe arrival. Even with radio communications without planning you will need to ask for the pattern altitude. With that, you can read the segmented circle, find traffic, use the radio and fly the pattern almost every time. Watch out at part time uncontrolled airports. Pattern directions are not always what you might expect. There are two airports in the Bay Area where right hand traffic patterns are flown when the tower is closed. (Napa and Livermore)
1. Plan your arrival. Read the A/FD, study the chart, monitor the frequency and make your call-up well away at a known geographical point. The precision of such a point removes most doubts as to your direction of flight.
2. The call-up must include your intentions. The standard overfly and 45-entry is recommended to the point that failure to do so can be FAA interpreted as careless flying if accident results. Still it is not contrary to the FARs to come in another way, just not recommended. Few IFR arrivals to uncontrolled airports come in on a 45.
3. Your first option for uncontrolled airport arrivals should always be the 45-degree entry.
4. The windsock sets the active runway.
5. Remember the segmented circle's arms are the base legs of the pattern.
6. Self announce your positions at the airport such as over the field at 2300 on the left-45, downwind, base, and final etc. Airport always the first and last words of all communications.
7. Never abuse your right of way privileges in a fit of righteousness.
8. Local agencies set patterns and pattern altitudes. Plan your arrival accordingly
9. Maintaining TPA until turning base is a practical noise abatement procedure..
10 Keep your pattern as small as your aircraft allows.
11. Make standard departure with adherence to noise abatement notices.
12. Exercise your 'See and be seen' skills.
(See Airspace-low visibility operations)
Most midair collisions and near misses occur within a couple of miles of non-tower airports. Operations at non-tower airports are more dangerous than are tower-controlled airports. If you habitually fly under ATC control and assistance then you must step up a notch your see-and-be-seen skills when nearing non-tower airports. There is no more dangerous place to fly than in the vicinity of a non-tower airport.
Depart over the field on a reciprocal 45 degree to the 45 degree entry. Lose half of altitude to pattern altitude. Execute a left/right course reversal while descending to pattern altitude on 45 degree entry. You should be at pattern altitude before reaching the pattern. This greatly improves your see/be seen opportunities. Arriving slightly high is better with high-wing and slightly low with low-wing aircraft for better visibility. Watch the ground for shadows.
Non-radio-equipped aircraft are expected to determine pattern in use. Since one in five General Aviation aircraft do not have radios. Radio use is not required but good sense dictates monitoring and use. One of the problem at uncontrolled airports is radio complacency. You begin to believe that if no one is on the radio that no one is there. Don't you believe it.
Kinds of UNICOM
1.) Every tower airport has a UNICOM on frequency 122.95. The callup gives, "Airport name UNICOM, aircraft identification and request". Due to the personnel or physical constraints several calls may be required to establish contact. Commonly used to order fuel, services, or transportation. 122.95 is the universal nationwide UNICOM frequency for TOWER fields. At such an airport UNICOM is used for ordering fuel, taxis, making phone calls or personal requests. It is frequently advantageous to contact the UNICOM a few miles out so that transportation will be there when you land. Some fields may have additional frequencies but 122.95 is standard. Only at the very largest airports will this frequency operate on a 24-hour basis.
2) Many uncontrolled airports may offer UNICOM service on the CTAF frequency given on the sectional. This means that there may be someone on the field to respond to a radio call during normal working hours.
3) Giving position reports is an AIM recommended practice.
NORDO aircraft can't give or hear them. See and be seen is the
Some of the CTAF frequencies are quite congested on weekends. It is important that the NAME of the place/airport be the first and last word of any CTAF communication. This alerts pilots in your area and allows others to discount your presence. This change is of relatively recent origin, about 10 years. You will still hear many pilots failing to use this procedure because they were not initially taught that way. Relearning is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of flying. Relearning is also one of the most resisted phases of instruction. However, what was good enough forty years ago or even five years ago is not good enough today.
--Provides automated weather much as ASOS
--Provides radio operational check
--Gives airport advisories selectable via mic-clicks
"Name of field UNICOM, aircraft identification, location, altitude, request traffic advisories (or other request) and name of the field."
If there is a UNICOM response, it may be limited to suggesting
a runway and traffic direction. (The Good Samaritan situation
has created liability they may not wish to assume with additional
advice) If there is not UNICOM response all further transmissions
should be addressed to "traffic".
The addition of the name of the airport at the end of each radio call is by an AD (Advisory Circular) June of 1985. When an omission occurs you can be certain that the pilot has avoided additional training since 1985.
The FAA oversight of non-tower operations is there and they're watching you. I know a pilot who made a low pass over a runway in Oregon and got a 90-day suspension for breaking the 500' FAR. While some of the FARs are very specific regarding operations much of the non-tower 'regulation' comes from the AIM or Advisory Circulars 90-42 and 90-66A). The student before flight to a non-tower airport should review FAR 91.127; 91.113 (g); 91.103 and 91.13.
The AIM recommends only the 45-degree entry to a non-tower airport all others are not recommended and or considered as safe or acceptable. Parts of the AIM to be reviewed include 4-53; 4-54; 4-8 and parts of AIM Chapter 5, Section 4. AC 90-42F, 90-66A, and 90-48C are for guidance of operations. Deviations of any parts of these at a non-tower airport are those, which the FAA selects as coming under FAR 91.13, the catchall. Byron airport has a mix of aircraft, helicopters, gliders, ultralights and parachutes. This is a mix best avoided by aircraft.
The courts, NTSB have agreed with the FAA's determination that the guidance provided by the FARs, AIM and ACs constitutes acceptable and safe operations. Everything else is relatively less safe. Airport owners and operators establish traffic patterns. Standard pattern is always to left barring noise or obstacle requirements. Arriving aircraft are expected to avoid the flow of traffic until established on the entry leg.
The entry leg on all FAA ACs appears as a 45-degree entry aimed at the runway landing threshold. The determination of the entry requires that wind, pattern, and traffic indications are confirmed prior to arrival at pattern altitude. Plan your descent to arrive at pattern altitude at the downwind turn. (AC 90-66A suggests that this turn occur at midfield. This works fine for 5000' runways but a good size pattern for a 2500' runway requires that the turn be abeam the departure end.) 1000' AGL is the new suggested pattern altitude. Some airports still publish and use the older 800' altitude.
The pattern altitude should be maintained at least until abeam the approach end of the runway. (CCR authorities require it until turning base.) Since there are local differences it is well to become familiar with the local requirements. Base turn is recommended at the 45 (key) point. Turn to final recommended at least 1/4 mile out
The selected runway for common use should be the one most aligned with the wind. A calm wind runway may be designated. If a secondary runway is used, flight must not interfere with preferred flow of traffic. Departing aircraft should not turn until beyond the departure end. Go arounds should not turn until well clear of any runway traffic and attempt to maintain visual contact. While in the pattern turns should not be initiated until within 300' of pattern. Such an altitude should assure the downwind turn being made at pattern altitude. Departing aircraft should not make their departure turn until reaching pattern altitude. (This is a slight change from what I have previously taught.)
FAR 91.1260-7 states that unless otherwise authorized all turns must be made to the left. Beyond this there is no 'regulation' that prohibits a base or straight-in entry. No turns are made in a straight-in approach. Some airports require only a straight-in (Ruth-northern most airport on the San Francisco Sectional.) A straight-in is only illegal if it interferes with other traffic. A straight-in with a two-mile final has been judged a violation of the FAR under this proviso.
Helicopter patterns are expected to be at 500' AGL and inside the aircraft pattern. Helicopter approaches will be steep. Glider operations may have a pattern inside the aircraft or with opposite turns. Ultralights usually have a 500' pattern inside aircraft and their own runway. Ultralights take off and land steeply.
Non-Tower Airport Arrival
(SEE RADIO PROCEDURES)
45 degree arrivals only
Look for additional ways to determine runways in use, such as arriving/departing aircraft, smoke/dust/waves. Nearby airports are good indicators. Try to plan the most efficient arrival conducive to safety. Avoid the pattern altitude until you are in it.
DON'T FLY INTO THE PATTERN ALTITUDE IN THE BLIND!!!!!
(Without using radio.)
15 mile callup:
1. Podunk UNICOM Cessna 1234X KEY Intersection at 2000 request traffic advisories Podunk (if no answer...
Podunk traffic Cessna 1234X KEY Intersection at 2000 planing to overfly at 2000 prior to landing Podunk
2. Podunk traffic Cessna 1234X over the field at planning
landing (runway) right/left traffic Podunk
Podunk traffic Cessna 34X on 45 for (runway number) Podunk
Podunk traffic Cessna 34X right/left downwind for (runway number) Podunk
Podunk traffic Cessna 34X right/left base for (runway number) Podunk
Podunk traffic Cessna 34X final for (runway number) Podunk
-- Fly the plane
-- Maintain proper altitudes and headings
-- Keep eyes outside cockpit and watch for traffic
122.9 Traffic only advisories at airports without frequency on sectional
123.6 Uncontrolled field with FSS for arrival and departure only
About 1% of aircraft accidents are of the mid-air type. Of these accidents 50% of those involved survive. Fatalities are 1.4 times more likely than in other accidents. Midairs are most frequent on final approach. The ratio of approach accidents is about 6 to 4 in favor of non-towered airports. Considering the relative numbers of uncontrolled airports and towered airports it is just possible that towered airports may pose the greater statistical risk.
IFR flight into and out of uncontrolled airports are often determined by the location of navigation facilities. Thus, the arrival and departures often conflict with what are the recommended local practices. Both IFR and VFR pilot must flex with the conflicting requirements. Any time the IFR arrival can comply with the standard traffic procedures the better. A phone call to the airport may be the best way to resolve any conflicts or doubts before arrival. Use of a current AFD is recommended.
Air carrier flight into non-towered airports that make straight-in arrivals have resulted in some serious accidents. Along with communications everyone must be on the same page (frequency) and giving advisories as to position, altitude, and intentions.
1. Traffic flow altitude should be avoided until established on the entry leg.
2. Entry should be on the 45 angle to the downwind leg.
3. Larger aircraft usually require a higher pattern altitude.
4. Base leg should be at least 1/4 mile from threshold.
5. Do not turn crosswind until past departure end of runway.
6. Time your crosswind turn so as to arrive on downwind at pattern altitude.
7. Departures should be straight-out until reaching pattern altitude with a 45 turn in pattern direction.
8. Instrument approaches should conform to normal flow of traffic.
Always include the runway number you plan to use. This provides an additional alert if someone missed the place/airport name as well as possible winds/ runways at nearby airports. Do not totally rely on such runway calls for what you should use. Since the use of the CTAF frequency nor the 45 degree entry is not REQUIRED you must use see-and-be-seen vigilance in all directions. If you have reason to believe density altitude over 1000' above AGL exists it would be helpful to include your computation in your communications with other aircraft.
Visual Indicators at Uncontrolled Airports
DON'T MISREAD WINDSOCK, TETRAHEDRON, OR SEGMENTED CIRCLE!!!!
a. At those airports without an operating control tower, a segmented circle visual indicator system, if installed, is designed to provide traffic pattern information. The segmented circle system consists of the following components:
1. The segmented circle--Located in a position affording maximum visibility to pilots in the air and on the ground and providing a centralized location for other elements of the system.
2. The wind direction indicator--A wind cone, windsock, or wind tee installed near the operational runway to indicate wind direction. The large end of the wind cone/wind sock points into the wind as does the large end (cross bar) of the wind tee. In lieu of a tetrahedron and where a windsock or wind cone is collocated with a wind tee, the wind tee may be manually aligned with the runway in use to indicate landing direction. These signaling devices may be located in the center of the segmented circle and may be lighted for night use. Pilots are cautioned against using a tetrahedron to indicate wind direction.
Small windsocks have 15-knot limit for stiffening. Droop is only way to make lower estimates. Use 45-degree droop as 7-8 knots. For takeoff estimate crosswind heading correction as one degree for each knot of crosswind.
Headwind factor of sock 30 degrees off runway heading means that wind velocity is only 75% of a headwind. Up to 60 degrees off runway heading means the headwind velocity is only half as strong. Beyond 60 degrees wind is zero headwind.
Crosswind factor of sock 30 degrees off runway heading means that wind velocity is 50% directly into wind. Estimate a wind between 30 and 60 degrees as 75% of direct wind velocity. Give wind full value if beyond 60 degrees.
Tailwind off 30 degrees is estimated as full strength. Up to 60 degrees off tail is estimated at 75% base velocity. Over 60 degrees wind is estimated as 50% of base velocity.
Select a wind direction and draw in the appropriate diagrams
for the words.
3. The landing direction indicator--A tetrahedron is installed when conditions at the airport warrant its use. It may be used to indicate the direction of landings and takeoffs. A Tetrahedron may be located at the center of a segmented circle and may be lighted for night operations. The small end of the tetrahedron points in the direction of landing. Pilots are cautioned against using the tetrahedron for any purpose other than as an indicator of landing direction. Further, pilots should use extreme caution when making runway selection by use of a tetrahedron in very light or calm wind conditions as the tetrahedron may not be aligned with the designated calm-wind runway. At airports with control towers, the tetrahedron is lockable and should only be referenced when the control tower is not in operation. Tower instructions supersede tetrahedron indications. Make illustration showing positions as though wind is from the west with a tetrahedron
4. Landing strip indicators--Installed in pairs...and used to show the alignment of landing strips (runways)
5. Traffic pattern indicators--Arranged in pairs in conjunction with landing strip indicators and used to indicate the direction of turns when there is a variation from the normal left traffic pattern. (If there is not segmented circle installed at the airport, traffic pattern indicators may be installed on or near the end of the runway.)
Draw a segmented circle with runways going east and west.
Draw the base legs to the runways so that the 270 degree heading
base leg is for right traffic and 090 runway base leg is also
b. Preparatory to landing at an airport without a control tower, or when the control tower is not in operation, the pilot should concern himself with the indicator for the approach end of the runway to be used. When approaching for landing, all turns must be made to the left unless a traffic pattern indicator indicates that turns should be made to the right. If the pilot will mentally enlarge the indicator for the runway to be used, the base and final approach legs of the traffic pattern to be flown immediately become apparent. Similar treatment of the indicator at the departure end of the runway will clearly indicate the direction of turn after takeoff.
c. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right of way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land, or to overtake that aircraft (FAR 91.113(f)).
Airport Traffic Patterns
At most airports and military air bases, traffic pattern altitudes for propeller-driven aircraft generally extend from 600 feet to as high as 1,500 feet above the ground.... Therefore, pilots of enroute aircraft should be constantly on the alert for other aircraft in the traffic patterns and avoid these areas whenever possible. Traffic pattern altitudes should be maintained unless otherwise required by the applicable distance from cloud criteria (FAR 91.155)
A disproportionate number of near-midair collisions and actual collisions occur at uncontrolled airports. Any pilot arriving at such an airport should pre-plan his arrival and have the cockpit so organized that maximum attention can be given outside the cockpit. Seeing is harder in an unfamiliar situation that avoidance of what you see. My using standard procedures you can better know where to look and what to look for.
As a former schoolteacher I have memories of playing a visual game with my classes on rainy days instead of going outside for P.E. I would have one group of children put their heads down. Another child would take a common object such as a key and place it in an uncommon place such as on a shoe, head, door knob, or projecting from a crack. On signal the selected group would raise their head and walk around the room trying to see the object. As the different children would find the key, they would return to their seats without letting those still looking know that they found the key. The quietest of the remaining groups would get to put their heads down next. The children enjoyed the increasing tension and the emotional control required not revealing they had found the key. Neat game to tell any teachers you know.
The reason I tell the story of the game is that, always the same children seemed to have the ability and skill to find the keys first. There is a special skill in looking, seeing, and then recognizing what you have seen. In my opinion, you have the required innate ability/skill or not. Some of my students have consistently exceeded my ability to spot aircraft. Physical conditions can be a negative/positive factor. The size, glare, and clarity of the windshield, the existence or non-existence of haze will make a difference. Knowing where to look is an intellectual factor that any pilot can develop.
The most effective scan covers no more than 10 degrees of the window and proceeds in successive 10-degree jumps. You cannot see when your eyes are moving. The eyes must stop and focus for a moment in order to see. A broad scan must be done by moving the head and keeping the eyes stationary. Additionally the focus distance (accommodations) must be varied from close to far. This is most important when haze give an obscure view of distant objects. Looking too long for distant objects in such conditions will cause the eyes to re-focus at about 20 feet. Learn to react to things in your peripheral vision even if it is a bug splatt. Any aircraft that balloons in your vision without moving is going to hit you, just like the runway.
--At night or any other time, an orange light is on top of the windsock.
--The white traffic pattern indicators at right angles to the landing strip indicators show that a right turn is required.
--Traffic pattern indicators may be installed on or near the end of the runway.
While the 45-degree entry is recommended, the FAA has no suggestion as to how to arrive at the initiating point when no advisory can be obtained. You should first overfly at twice pattern altitude to confirm wind direction and the pattern direction of the preferred runway. There are two ways I have seen the initial 45 entry reached. Every key point of each procedure should be identified for other traffic.
1. At twice pattern altitude, cross over the runway at a 90 degree angle toward the downwind leg, cross that leg and fly on this heading at least another mile before turning 90 degrees parallel to the runway toward the upwind end. At the 90-degree turn descent to the pattern altitude should be initiated. Eyeball for a 45-degree angle to the approach end and make your turn of 135 degrees. For left traffic this will combine two right turns, the first of 90 degrees and the second of 135 degrees. Draw this out around a diagram of an airport to see how it put you on a 45 entry.
What I Dislike in This Option
a) I have had an instructor use it without allowing for a strong cross wind. His turn to parallel the downwind put us right into the downwind traffic pattern.
b) The necessity for right turns restricts the see-and-be-seen requirement.
2. From the approach end of the field depart on a heading that will take you across the pattern side of the field on a 45-degree angle toward the point of entry. You will be on this heading if the runway # (number) is on the right front 45-degree mark of your heading indicator. Proceed on this heading until clear of the pattern and descend 500'. Initiate a course reversal (a required private pilot procedure) first 90 degrees to the right which would be away from the traffic and airport and then a 270 to the left back to the entry position. On a correct 45 degree heading the runway # number will be on your left rear 45 degree heading marker. This inbound checking system works for all 45-degree entries left and right..
Mistakes at Non-Tower Airports
0. Not monitoring the frequency as soon as possible.
1. Not calling up soon enough to get advisory
2. Not observing traffic pattern/windsock direction
3. Turning downwind too close to runway
4. Becoming distracted and not attending to airspeed and pattern orientation
5. Trying to hit the end of the runway
6. Delaying addition of power if low
7. Delaying go around if a poor approach/flare
8. Not clearing runway immediately
9. Discourteous, rude and arrogant behavior
10. Flying a DC-8 pattern and not keeping your pattern square and tight
11. Make go-arounds to right side of runway, not along the runway.
1. Full 360 degree clearing turn on ground in run-up pad prior departure. Draw runway and run-up area with how
you might make such a departure: You must learn to taxi and talk at the same time.
2. Advise traffic of departure and direction
3. Do not make a 45-degree departure
until past the departure end of the runway and at least half
of pattern altitude. A premature turn can put you into conflict
with traffic inbound on the 45.
4. Make any downwind departures so that the downwind is closer to the runway than would normally be used by landing aircraft. This keeps you from crossing their 45-degree entry path.
Non-UNICOM Uncontrolled Airports:
All call-ups are made to the airport "Location name, traffic, aircraft identification, position, altitude, intentions and location name" on 122.9. Any responses to your "blind" communications would be from other aircraft.
Use of Lights
--Lighting will make aircraft more conspicuous
--Remember, lights just tell there is an aircraft; not what it is going to do
--Rotating beacon on whenever an engine is running
--Turn on navigation, position, anti-collision and logo lights prior to taxi
--all exterior lights on when crossing a runway and when taking off.
--Strobe light use on the ground should be limited where they may interfere with other pilots
Procedures at Non-Towered Airports (NTAs)
--NTAs require greater vigilance and increased communications
--Become familiar with local pattern altitude and pattern procedures as well as radio call-up practice.
--Anticipate that IFR inbound traffic are probably making a straight-in.
--Expect to use visual cues, signage, markings and lighting to aid use of airport diagram
--Always monitor the CTAF and approach frequency to find out who's where.
--Transmit takeoff, departure and route plans before taking the runway
--Use your full call sign on first call up and always if another aircraft has similar call sign
--Always put the name of your airport as first and last words of each radio call
--Don't use radio until frequency is clear
Basic Uncontrolled Airport Procedures
--Understand that at an uncontrolled airport the 'position and hold' procedure given by ATC does not exist. Make your clearing turn, check both ends of the runway and go. The aircraft that hits you, you will never see.
--Situation departing one airport, using radar facility to another uncontrolled airport. It is generally to the pilot's advantage to take the initiative on the radio rather than waiting on ATC to call.
--You can change frequency when you wish
--Make a full 360 after the runup to clear the sky and final before taking the runway.
--During the 360 use the radio to advise your intentions on departure.
--Always make departure turns in the proper pattern direction even if it includes climbing 270.overhead.
--Call your altitude, direction and altitude climbing to on departure.
--You can change frequency when you wish
Your First Contact with a Radar Facility…
--Give aircraft type and full call-sign followed by "over" wait for acknowledgment by ATC
--Give abbreviated call-sign along with position, altitude, and destination.
--Write down squawk, say it back along with any instructions.
--Put squawk into transponder. IDENT only if so instructed.
--If you have concerns about where you are headed, request a vector.
--Even if VFR do not change altitude without letting ATC know.
Near Your Destination,
--You can advise ATC that you have destination in sight and request change to advisory frequency
--You can wait for ATC to ask you if you have destination in sight and tell you to change
--Or, they may just say that advisories are canceled and to squawk VFR
--Never leave a radar frequency without some form of radio 'good-bye'.
--Make all you calls directed to 'traffic'
--Use this frequency when no frequency is listed..
with Frequency Other than 122.9:
--Make you initial call-up a few miles away addressed to UNICOM
--If there is no response, repeat your initial call to traffic and then address all further calls to 'traffic'.
--Put the airport name as the first and last word of every communication
--Give your altitude in every call until you reach pattern altitude.
--Listen on the frequency for aircraft that may be operating at the airport while giving the runway in use.
--If you are unable to plan the arrival to a runway, use a radio call to advise that you will overfly airport at a particular altitude prior to landing.
--Once over the airport advise traffic of your intentions to make a 45 entry to a particular runway.
--When several aircraft are in the pattern reduce the number of calls when you have joined up.
--Go to slow-flight whenever you are number-three on the downwind to close up the pattern.
--Do not turn base until the aircraft you are following is abeam your wing.
--Always include the appropriate left/right in every pattern call except when on final.
--Call the 45, downwind and base as being left or right.
--Advise on final, the type of landing procedure you are going to make.
Airport Positional Awareness
---Make certain that you are using the proper frequency and monitor it always in vicinity of the airport.
---Monitor the frequency as much as possible both coming and going.
---Make clearing 360s prior to taking a runway look both high and low.
---Knowing where you are is essential for using the radio to tell others where you are.
---Plan what you are going to say for brevity and clarity, practice what you are going to say, say it.
---The first and last word of each communication is the name of the airport.
---This awareness applies to surface operations as well as in the air. Use your lights
---Calm conditions increase the hazards of runway conflicts in the air as well as on the ground.
---You know where you are by using navaids, airways, airport diagrams, terrain and radio traffic calls.
---Know where you are in relationship to common reporting points, checkpoints and airports.
---The better you know where you are the better you can know where problems are likely to arise.
---Knowing where other aircraft are in relationship to your present and future positions tells you where to look
---Uniformity in procedures as suggested by the AIM will minimize traffic conflicts and improve safety.
---The aspect of decreased safety at uncontrolled airports is directly related to irregularities of procedure.
---An uncontrollable aspect of decreased safety lies with aircraft of similar call signs. Use full signs then.
---Most non-conforming procedure problems related to airports began as instructional failures.
---As a pilot it is your responsibility to go beyond your instructor to learn procedures according to the AIM.
---Uncontrolled airport procedures recommend pre taxi, takeoff/departure calls arrival and pattern calls.
---In-transit in the vicinity of airports getting the one-minute weather and monitoring the CTAF frequency
---Outside of the pattern it is best to always give your altitude along with your position ten miles out
---Make a copy of AC 90-42, 90-66, A91-73C at www.faa.gov/runwaysafety/cockpit.cfm
for Those Who Are Uncontrolled Airport Challenged
---Assumption is that pilot has absolutely no knowledge of the airport
---Consider phoning to any listed number in AF/D, internet search or AOPA publication.
---Standard is left traffic unless otherwise indicated. Patterns are usually away from habitation. areas
---Airports with any right patterns should have RT in the airport information part of the sectional.
---Airports with AWOS or ASOS will usually give wind directions that favor a particular runway
---Windsocks are usually mid-field with segmented circle showing pattern directions for runways.
---Tetrahedrons are lockable to show preferred runway regardless of wind direction
---Prior to arrival begin a frequency watch of airport to pick up on other traffic and runway in use
---If you know runway and aren’t 45-degree entry challenged enter the 45 and so advise on the radio
---Technically most any arrival is possible so long as all turns are left turns. A left 270 is s legal right turn?
---The overhead arrival is the one that provides maximum safety if properly designed.
The Initial Call for Overhead Arrival (Rio Vista)
---From 20 out begin a listening watch of the frequency
(You can skip the overhead arrival if you think you can make a 45-degree inbound entry to downwind)
---At 10 out locate a visually identifiable arrival call up point.
---It is safer to report as being one or two miles offset from call up points
---Every call should have the name of the airport as first and last word(s)
---This call may be made to both UNICOM and traffic as two separate calls or as one
---The call includes aircraft type, numbers, position, altitude and arrival intentions with altitude.
---Practice by using a familiar airport and call-up point to get the information in compact form
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D 2 west of Collinsville at 2300 planning over-fly at 2100 Rio Vista
Nothing is known about airport
---Circle windsock in left turns for visibility and if the selected runway uses right traffic
---When the selected runway uses left traffic maneuver to make right turns around the windsock.
---When you have all you can learn from the windsock you want to fly at right angles to the runway
---Widen your curved path so as to fly over the numbers, if the runway is to your left it is right traffic
---If your right angled flight path takes you over the numbers with the runway to your right, think left traffic
Everything is known about airport
---Locate the windsock, circle appropriate direction and fly so as to cross numbers at right angle
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D over field at 2100 planning right traffic 25 Rio Vista
Making the 45
Using the Heading Indicator
---Crossing the numbers at right angle with the runway 25 to your left means you are heading 340
---Crossing the numbers at right angle with the runway 25 to your right means you are heading 160
---Flying 340 heading the indicator has marker indicating the 45-degrees right traffic outbound at 295
---Flying 160 heading the indicator has marker indicating the 45-degrees left
traffic outbound at 205
---For those of mathematical bent the sum of the digits of all the numbers involved in a rectangular pattern and related 45s inbound and outbound all add to 7. I will show this with the numbers above
Runway 25 is really 250(2+5+0=7); 340 (3+4+0=7)/ 160 (1_6+0=7); 295=(2+9+5=16=1+6=7) 205=2+0+5=7) This sum of the digits is true for all runways, all patterns and 45s. Your heading indicator has markers to tell you where these numbers are. Use them.
Flying the Outbound 45 (no wind)
---The numbers are for no-wind conditions correct into the wind about one degree per knot
---Over the runway numbers turn to the 295 outbound 45 heading while descending 500 for right traffic
---Over the runway numbers turn to the 205 outbound 45 heading while descending 500 for left traffic.
---At cruise one minute outbound should be enough for clearing the downwind traffic below
---Use heading indicator and initiate a descending course reversal to enter the inbound 45 at pattern altitude
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D right 45 outbound for 25 Rio Vista
The Course Reversal
---Before initiating the course reversal note the bottom of the heading indicator show your final heading
---On the outbound 45 initiate your course reversal with a 30-degree bank and reversing the bank at 90 degrees.
---Reverse bank is held at 30-degrees, leveled at 270-degrees and should be the bottom heading noted before.
---The FAA, for reasons unknown to me, use an 80/260 to accomplish the same procedure.
--- When on the outbound 45 make it a point to note the bottom of the heading indicator for the inbound 45
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D right 45 inbound for 25 Rio Vista
---The downwind direction for both right and left traffic is 070 for runway 25
---The downwind is used to prevent any crosswind to prevent you from being blown toward the runway
---Additionally it is the time you do your prelanding and correct any altitude excursions at cruise speed
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D right downwind for 25 Rio Vista
---The base leg is designed to allow changes in direction to adjust your altitude for wind and judgment
---The right base in this situation will be a heading of 160 + any adjustment made
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D right base for 25 Rio Vista
---Final is used to adjust runway alignment with side slips and altitude with flaps and power.
---Changes in airspeed should be avoided.
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D final for 25 (intentions: full stop, option, etc) Rio Vista
Clear of Runway
---Taxi over any hold bars before stopping and using radio
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D clear of 25) Rio Vista
Runup and Departure
---Face wind for run-up positioned for economic clearing of bases and final
---Make 360 circle to clear area prior to taking runway
Rio Vista Traffic Cessna 5227D departing 25 (intentions: pattern, on course (destination) etc) Rio Vista
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Continued on 3.45 Flying Airport Patterns