Traffic pattern



  • How far from the runway do you generally want to be on downwind in a pattern? I think it's 0.5-1 nm in general, but I can't seem to turn tight enough to keep within 1nm (usually end up 1.5-2 nm out at around 100kts for the turn). Also, do you level for the crosswind and base legs or just do one continuous 180 turn? If I level for them for any amount of time it extends that distance even further (less of an issue on base since it's slower). Thanks!



  • If in the arrow or a cessna, the runways should appear at about half the wings' length. And yes, you level on crosswind and base leg, but it might not be for long.



  • What @Tailspin88 said. During my training (mind you, in a Beechcraft Sundowner, not a Turbo Arrow), we take off on the runway heading at the optimal climb rate, then at 1100 feet we turn crosswind. Continue climb up to 1400 feet and then left for downwind. The runway is somewhere along the center of the wing. That's the same rule I use in the Arrow and it seems more or less about where it should be although I have no real world reference for the Arrow, I can pretty much tell that that's where I should be.



  • The one that you always want to remember when flying in the pattern, is to make sure you have enough altitude and a safe distance from the runway in case you lose an engine. If you're too close to the runway off your shoulder then it's going to be tough to make the final two turns is it too high or too low and you lose an engine.... Just saying. A good rule of thumb generally is about thousand feet how about the elevation of the airport. Now keep in mind this is all based on general aviation. There's a lot to think about when flying in the pattern. During real world training, you'll spend so much time never leaving the pattern with your instructor.



  • @dvlourie said in Traffic pattern:

    safe distance from the runway

    Yeah this was one thing I was wondering about. I was doing patterns at an airport with an 810ft AGL traffic pattern and even skipping the crosswind leg altogether I ended up too far away to glide back. This was all around 90-100kts



  • @vcapra1 always keep in mind that the purpose of the traffic pattern is simply to prepare you to land the plane. So you don't want to be going super fast and you certainly don't want to stall in the pattern. Stay anywhere from about 10 to 12 knots above stall on your downwind and start slowing her down as you're going through downwind crossing over to base and then finally on final... it just takes a lot of practice.... Oh yeah, add wind correction in the formula and you're really going to be busy.. 😉



  • Pattern altitude at small airports is generally 900-1000ft above the surface. On takeoff you want to climb to 500ft AGL before beginning your crosswind turn. I usually am levelling at 1000 AGL as I start the downwind turn or just after turning downwind. At 1000 AGL is where you want the runway to appear at half your wings length. In a Cessna you use the strut as a guide but with the arrow that obviously isn't possible. I usually don't exceed more than 100 kts on downwind either.



  • @Tailspin88 Thanks for your explanation. I have a new question: what is your process for leveling out? I always think "attitude, power, trim" so I level completely before reducing power, but that usually results in excessive airspeed which may explain why I always end up so far from the runway. Should I pull power before pitching for level flight?



  • @vcapra1 As you approach your levelling altitude just reduce power, the nose will drop and you'll settle into a slower airspeed also. Trim to hold altitude while adjusting throttle to maintain the airspeed you want.



  • @vcapra1 Try to think differently. Power determines vertical speed, while angle of attack, pitch trim, determine airspeed. If you lower the angle of attack (pitch down) you will briefly level off, but your airspeed will increase. Instead, just reduce power and you will nicely level off, without the airspeed increasing.

    So set your trim to set your speed and use power for setting the vertical speed (climb/descent). Especially during landing this will help you quite a bit.



  • @Tailspin88 If you trim to hold the altitude and then add power to increase speed, you will see that you start to climb. Next you will have to trim down again and before you know you are adjusting trim and power all the time. The proper way is: trim for speed, adjust power for climb/descent.