Value of the traffic pattern!

Vance

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Quote from Doug Riley from the thread on Pre-rotate before entering runway​

“I try to inform FW pilots who might be using the runway at the same time as me about my operating needs. I bring it up at the morning pilots' briefings at flyins, for example. The "special needs" I announce include (1) the delay caused by prespinning, (2) my close-in patterns, and (3) very steep approaches.

(#3 has caused more trouble than anything else; I've had fast FW planes do their finals UNDER me and land in FRONT of me while I'm on short final in a gyro. They are watching the numbers and don't look ABOVE them for something descending steeply toward the same spot. I've developed the habit of frequently turning around and looking behind me, up the "10-mile final" glide slope when on final. Many fixed-wingers turn final in the next county over.”

Doug brings up a good point that was not really a part of the topic of this thread so I am going to take it to Training.

In my opinion flying a close in pattern has some specific value at non towered airports that sometimes can get lost over time.

Early on many of my clients will focus on the runway when turning base to final so they don’t overshoot the runway instead of looking closely at the approach path for aircraft on a big pattern or making a straight in.

As Doug writes the fixed wing pilots are focused on their aiming point and likely will not see a gyroplane descending into their approach path.

I encourage all gyroplane pilots to start searching the approach path as soon as they turn bass and take a last careful look before turning final.

I remind them that there is no requirement for someone to use a radio at a non towered airport so see and avoid is the primary tool.

It is my observation that often fixed wing pilots will report their final incorrectly and may in fact be much closer than they report.

Many fixed wing pilots imagine that gyroplanes are flying the same pattern at the same speed and when I report midfield, downwind they may imagine they have more time than they do.

If they are reporting by the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) I make certain I have them in sight and can extend my downwind if there is a conflict.

If there is a mid air collision likely all aboard both aircraft will receive fatal injuries so they too are motivated to see and avoid.

I feel this is important even at an airport with an operating control tower because air traffic controllers are not perfect and the consequencies of a mistake are dire.
 
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WaspAir

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I feel this is important even at an airport with an operating control tower because air traffic controllers are not perfect and the consequencies of a mistake are dire.
Even when ATC performs flawlessly, other pilots may misunderstand or misobey. ATC gives clearances and instructions, but they don't actually "control " any aircraft.

One of the closest near-miss near-midairs I ever had was with another pilot who thought a tower instruction was intended for him when it was not, and he cut incredibly close in front of me on a base to final turn (KPAO allows simultaneous left and right traffic for the same runway with head-on base leg paths, so one has to stay sharp). The controller was justifiably upset with him, but I, not the controller, would have paid for that misunderstanding. It was my last-moment avoidance maneuver that prevented a disaster, not tower instructions.
 

Doug Riley

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Vance, this brings up a point on which you and I have offered different viewpoints in the past. I think the difference derives from your use of a much bigger and busier home airport than the grass farm strips I usually use.

I close the throttle to idle while on base, and take my hand off the throttle handle. When teaching, I had my students do the same. The idea was for them to get very comfortable with the gyro's steep glide angle.

Many gyro pilots carry partial power all the way down their final, only closing it after touchdown. This, of course, makes their final much shallower. Also, on some gyros with small rudders and big cabins, the rudder is ineffective without strong propwash over it. this technique, however, leaves you vulnerable to landing short, off field, if the engine quits.

Depending on the situation, keeping power on and doing a shallower approach (possibly faster, too) might be be the best way to reduce the risk of being hit from behind on final. That safety advantage may outweigh the risk of landing short should the engine quit.
 

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Vance

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Thank you for your input Doug,

I feel we don’t have a divergence of opinion Doug; perhaps we have a divergence of teaching style.

Yes; a small non towered airport for me may have three to five aircraft in the pattern

My post is about see and avoid rather than the approach to land.

I feel that looking for traffic is just as important at an airport with five operations a week as one that has 400 operations a day.

I feel see and avoid as well as radio calls need to be taught until the procedure is a habit even though mid air collisions are rare because the consequences of failing at see and avoid are so dire.

When it comes to landings I teach power on landings first and progress to power off landings.

I start with power on landings because the timing and control inputs are more relaxed.

A power on landing in The Predator is at 1,600 engine rpm.

When moving toward a power off landing we reduce the power 200 engine rpm each time they have an elegant landing until we reach engine at idle.

Power off approach and accuracy landings is one of the practical test standards:

1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to performing a power-off approach and accuracy landing.

2. Selects a reference point in the landing area for touchdown and reduces power to a zero-thrust position.

3. Adjusts glide path to terminate approach and touch down beyond and within 300 feet of the reference point.
 

loftus

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Thank you for your input Doug,

I feel we don’t have a divergence of opinion Doug; perhaps we have a divergence of teaching style.

Yes; a small non towered airport for me may have three to five aircraft in the pattern

My post is about see and avoid rather than the approach to land.

I feel that looking for traffic is just as important at an airport with five operations a week as one that has 400 operations a day.

I feel see and avoid as well as radio calls need to be taught until the procedure is a habit even though mid air collisions are rare because the consequences of failing at see and avoid are so dire.

When it comes to landings I teach power on landings first and progress to power off landings.

I start with power on landings because the timing and control inputs are more relaxed.

A power on landing in The Predator is at 1,600 engine rpm.

When moving toward a power off landing we reduce the power 200 engine rpm each time they have an elegant landing until we reach engine at idle.

Power off approach and accuracy landings is one of the practical test standards:

1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to performing a power-off approach and accuracy landing.

2. Selects a reference point in the landing area for touchdown and reduces power to a zero-thrust position.

3. Adjusts glide path to terminate approach and touch down beyond and within 300 feet of the reference point.
Agree with everything Vance says, just want to add how important I think ADS B in and out really is particularly at busy airports. I know Vance is big on not relying on technology, but anybody who has experienced ADS-B technology on a digital screen will understand that no matter how good one thinks one is at looking for traffic, the amount of traffic one misses, particularly the traffic that is behind you and impossible to see, is so to speak an 'eye-opener'. Anyone who doubts this and does not have ADS-B in on a screen inside their airplane, should take a ride in an airplane that has it.
In addition, close to an airport approaching aircraft may be more difficult to spot as they may be lower and over a land background rather than against the sky.
 

Vance

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Agree with everything Vance says, just want to add how important I think ADS B in and out really is particularly at busy airports. I know Vance is big on not relying on technology, but anybody who has experienced ADS-B technology on a digital screen will understand that no matter how good one thinks one is at looking for traffic, the amount of traffic one misses, particularly the traffic that is behind you and impossible to see, is so to speak an 'eye-opener'. Anyone who doubts this and does not have ADS-B in on a screen inside their airplane, should take a ride in an airplane that has it.
In addition, close to an airport approaching aircraft may be more difficult to spot as they may be lower and over a land background rather than against the sky.
I agree with Jeffrey; ADS-B in is a useful tool for enhanced saftey.

I typically fly the pattern at 60 knots and I cannot see from about my four o’clock to about my eight o’clock.

ADS-B in allows me to see them and avoid them.

Most of the traffic is flying faster and pilots are looking for wings. Because the Predator’s wings are invisible it makes it unlikely they will so me.

The radio is a useful tool and I follow the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

If I feel any confusion about where other traffic is I ask on the radio.

“White gyroplane 142 Mike Golf, negative contact on that inbound traffic to the north, say location again please.”

I have discovered that not every pilot understands, left downwind mid field, turning left base and turning final.

There are some airports where I add extra radio calls if I feel the situation calls for it.

For example at Santa Ynez I call “inbound on the forty five over the river bridge” because pilots following noise abatement procedures (RWY 26 TKOF RCMD HDG 210 DEG AT ARPT PERIMETER IF SAFETY PMT FOR NOISE ABATEMENT) are close to nose to nose. I also call turning cross wind if I am doing pattern work.

There are not a lot of midair collisions. They are almost always fatal so I feel some measures to avoid them are a worthwhile effort.

I have had at least three near misses.
 

loftus

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Sometimes just staying out of the way is good ADM. At our airport KDED (no tower), there are two runways, 5-23 and 12-30. There are situations when I choose to cautiously use the alternate runway.
On Sunday I was approaching from the Northwest, there were 3-4 people in the pattern, mostly students doing touch and goes landing on 23. Winds were 3-4kts at about 14. At our airport the AWOS announces 5 as the preferred low wind runway..
It was much easier and safer I thought to stay out of everyone's way and announce a 'straight in for 12 holding short of 5-23' than to negotiate entering the busy pattern. I think with slower and short landing aircraft like gyros and my Aircam this is often safer and more convenient if done intelligently, particularly as the runways are 4000 and 6000 ft and I am off the runway at least 3000 feet before the runways intersect. The skydiving aircraft do this routinely when the pattern is very busy. I approached straight in 12, and of course especially as 23 was the pattern at the time there was no conflict with their downwind.
 
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chrisk

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My preference is a very close pattern, with descent starting when I turn base. If I have to extend because of an aircraft on final, I fly final like an airplane with the typical 3% descent. Gyros are very small and hard to see, especially when airplane pilots are not expecting to look where you are flying.
 

Resasi

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I have always believed that aircraft operation in a traffic pattenr is an invaluable training area.

It exercises almost every single facet of flight. Climbing descending, climbing and descending turns, exercise of flight awareness in relation to other aircraft, judgement, in both airmanship with regard to proximity to other aircraft, and ground features. Radio discipline, and in engine of approaches, training for engine failure patterns, and landing practice.

To stay and simply do circuits is an extremely useful exercise.
 

Vance

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I agree Leigh; I did eight tenths of an hour of pattern work last night and worked on my takeoffs, climb out speed, climbing turns, radio work, practical test standards, descending turns, approach and landing.

The tower extended my up wind and downwind for traffic several times and I practiced looking for traffic, report in sight.

I found that a Cirrus jet is hard to see.

I talk to myself as though I was a learner to help me counsel my clients and listen to my radio calls on the video after the flight.

Each takeoff holds magic for me and each landing is satisfying.

I feel currency is a critical piece of aviation safety and I have only flown once since October 15 so I do not feel current.
 

bryancobb

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I think I have posted this before but my DPE, his examinee, and another aircraft with CFI and student had a midair and all four died, three days before my scheduled checkride, at a fairly busy FAA Towered field in clear day VFR weather. Note: When VFR See and Avoid is in effect, it is the primary responsibility of the people in the aircraft to stay separated and not primarily the controllers. The DPE was giving an instrument checkride. The examinee was "under hood" and the examiner's eyes were the primary safety tool. In VFR, I'm pretty sure tower controllers are not required to keep their eyes on you at all times.
 
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