Pattern Work Question

I’m sure this has been covered before, but I haven’t been able to find it so far. Working on pattern work on solo so I can fly better with other traffic and was wondering, is there a set distance to travel on the cross wind, base or downwind leg? Also at what distance point should I practice turning into the ILS “cone” on the map to make my final into the runway? Appreciate any help.

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As much as you desire. Typically turn close on base for smaller aircrafts. For big aircrafts, turn base towards the top point of the ILS cone

Hey there welcome to the community! 👋

In this topic the author explains “what” a pattern is but also how you fly a pattern. I think you’re asking for the last one. Scroll down to the bottom and there you find the procedures and tips for flying patterns.

Not true. Normally, patterns are supposed to be fast. Although there is no set time, controllers often dislike having an aircraft doing patterns to the cones.

Once a controller clears you for the option, assuming you are number 1 you can turn as soon or as late as you want. Speaking for myself, I prefer when aircraft turn earlier, as it becomes easier to fit arrivals into the mix.

I would say @able22 there is no specific time you are supposed to turn, but it is recommended to go to the end of the cone!


As a guide, GA Aicraft fly a pattern at 1000ft AGL whilst jet Aircarft fly them at 1500ft AGL (AGL = Above Ground Level).

If I am flying a pattern I take off straight out to 1000/1500 once stabilised (in a jet I am to be at 150kts) at that height I turn onto the Downwinf leg (180 deg turn).

Once I have completed the downwind leg I turn 180 degreews again on to final heading. If you are at the same speed you will turn straight on to the ILS and are able to pick up the glide scope. MIght need to adjust for any xwind on the legs.

Dont forget to call out your positions on Unicom (even if no one is there).

happy landings

It looks like you’re forgetting two important legs of the pattern. The pattern you’re flying is an oval, but a traffic pattern should be a rectangle.

Photo courtesy of

There are no set distances in miles. You should take off and fly upwind until you’re clear of the airport. Crosswind should take you far enough away from the airport to fly a proper downwind and base. Once you turn downwind, keep going until you are far enough past the airport to fly a good final approach (this can be as short as 1-2 miles in a GA aircraft, or as long as 10 in an airliner). Turn base, and then turn and establish yourself on final.

There’s a lot of variables between speed, altitude, wind, terrain, what plane you’re flying, what you want to work on in your approach. Take your time and practice, try and make each pattern feel better than the last.

Yep, was using the KISS process there, best used with no traffic when you want to practice your TnGs ;-)

You should pretend the cone is not there. When you’re at the correct pattern altitude, you should turn when you’re below the glidescope. The cone is an imaginary visual aid. Nothing more.

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Appreciate the replies and the info, exactly what I was looking to find out.