Earlier today, due to a lack of Approach and the position of inbound traffic, I opted to give one aircraft an overhead pattern entry. As I watched, it occurred to me that this is something very rarely encountered by pilots in IF, so I thought I’d offer a brief synopsis.
It still won’t be common, but it is a possibility, so pilots should know how to execute it.
The scenario was with a southbound plane, north of LEBL with the 25s in use, told to enter left downwind for 25L. I’m fairly certain the pilot thought I just didn’t know my left from my right, but that wasn’t the case. I wanted to separate him from the other traffic he was next to, which I sent to 25R. Rather than have these two planes fight for airspace, I wanted to give them room to breathe, but as ATC rarely uses it, it was…rough…to say the least.
Anyway, if told to enter the downwind which requires you to cross the field, here is an image from FAA documentation on how to do it:
You should cross overhead mid-field at least 500 feet above pattern altitude (1000 AAL GA, 1500 AAL others), fly clear of pattern, descend to pattern altitude and loop around to enter at the normal angle as shown above. (Really, for our purposes, entering at a 45 degree angle without the loop isn’t the end of the world, as long as the Realism™ Police don’t catch you.) the important part is that you should cross above pattern altitude and mid-field, where you’re not interfering with other traffic, meaning don’t try to cross the end of the cone at 2500 feet while another plane intercepts; you’re just causing an incursion.
This probably won’t be used that often, but pilots should know what to do if they do encounter it. Without approach, Tower has to use the tools at its disposal to separate traffic, and this may be one of them.
(Note: You do not require transition if given pattern entry thusly. You just need to be 2000 or more feet AAL, and cross mid-field.)