Pattern Query

I was flying from LA to San Clemente Island, and heading south for the airport. I was cleared to enter left downwind for runway 24. I wasn’t sure how to enter the pattern, so I kept my altitude high at 5000 as I flew over the airport, then descended to pattern altitude and entered the pattern. I didn’t get chastised for that maneuver, but I was wondering if there is a more preferred way to handle that?


I think that was fine

Usually there would be a waypoint to fly for and then circle the field as approach cleared you to land IRL if their was need for a holding pattern, this would have altitude and heading vectors in the flight plan but as for IF the procedures are a little different.

No Airliners fly pattern work after all, they are usually cleared straight in and have a STAR for ease and comfort.

This is very confusing the first time you look at it, but google how to decipher them as these charts are used IRL to fly the correct approach.

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Thanks, I’ll have to check that out when I’m more awake!

Definitely takes all your concentration!

Hi Gary welcome to the forums.
When I first started flying on live I was confused with patterns aswell. This article below should help you out for these situations. Also please remember to use the search bar for this sort of information. Thanks have a nice flight 😀

This could help to it shows an all round tutorial of most ATC procedures.


If I’m not mistaken he wasn’t flying a GA plane, he was flying an airliner? Commercial airliners don’t fly patterns.

Airliners could definitely fly a pattern.

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Could, but don’t.

I’m comfortable with flying a pattern, as I reviewed that tutorial when I started on live. The specific question I had was with how To enter the pattern when my approach is from the opposite side of the airport.

ill setup the scenario… Let’s say the active runway is 27, and I’m approaching from the north heading 18, and given clearance to enter downwind. How do I safely cross over the airport so I can make enter downwind? I didn’t think entering upwind would work, as I’d be in the way of departing flights when I turned crosswind, so I elected to stay a little above pattern altitude, and fly over the airport. When I was 2 miles past, I turned downwind, defended to pattern altitude, and entered to be pattern.

Is that the correct way to handle that scenario?

Do some STARs put you into the pattern though? I was on a flight a few weeks ago that definitely entered at a left downwind leg with a left turn to final. Wouldn’t that be considered in the pattern?

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I’m not sure what STARS means.

Maybe I’m not making myself clear. The only question I have is whether or not it was ok to fly over the airport to get in the pattern.

If I was the controller I would have asked you to join right downwind if practical to do so. I’m not an advanced controller though so could well be off the mark with that.

Here’s a picture of my approach… I’m coming in on the red line at 4000’, after crossing the runway, I start my decent to 1500 (yellow) I enter the pattern at 1500’ (green) and land. Does that look reasonable? Should I have considered another approach?

Btw, excuse the crude pic… I drew it on my iPad, and don’t have a lot of patience for the tool I was using.

Thanks, you made me google STARs, and I found some good info on Wikipedia

What was I saying…I know controllers will vector commercial flights into a pattern…I must’ve been half asleep when I posted that

howd u even do that, getting from lax to san clemate?


San Clemente Island… The runway was 24. My picture wasn’t meant to accurately depict the airport, it was describing that type approach in general.