Patternwork, Situational Awareness and Ludicrous Crosswind Entry

Patternwork with airliners at the busiest hub of the day. Just another day at the office in IF (Because Realism™!..You know those ten 388s in pattern at Heathrow all day IRL, right?)

Anyway, I’m not here to tell you not to do it, but I am going to tell you exactly how not to go about it.

First off, as with everything, you are responsible for maintaining situational awareness. And since patterns are VFR, you’re responsible for maintaining separation from other aircraft.

This is not done best by turning crosswind midway down the runway such as here:


You’re responsible for seeing those other planes on downwind. Torpedoing their fuselage is no bueno. Extend upwind when flying patterns. And I don’t even mean a real extend upwind…but you have to at least cross the threshold. Do not turn into crosswind before you’re even halfway down the runway in an airliner.

This applies even if there aren’t planes on downwind. Everyone loves to toss the R-word around…unless that includes any ounce of concern for other pilots. You remember how you wanted to takeoff? Yeah, well the guys on the ground now that you’re airborne do, too. Wear their shoes and all that. Flying at a major hub in an airliner as if you’re at an abandoned dirt strip in your Cessna is not showing concern for your fellow pilots.

Again, even if there’s no downwind traffic at the time, this should never happen:


Turning crosswind before you’ve even travelled 10 percent of the runway distance? No.

Part of Patternwork is predictability. Traffic will likely be moving around you. Sequencing, vectors, many other considerations all go into it, even though you’re only concerned with yourself (or your XP or landings or whatever), so travel the length of the runway and fly respectable patterns, including giving enough lateral separation so that you’re not wingtip to wingtip with planes on final.

And if you’re sequenced behind someone, follow them. Don’t cut inside of them and jet ahead or just behind them. They’re going to turn base eventually obviously, and it’s a lot easier without your nose in their APU.

[And I know there are other threads on these but since no one seems to read them:

  1. Every takeoff is not remaining in pattern. You only use that if you’re, er, remaining.

  2. Patterns are VFR. I didn’t tell you to switch to Approach after clearing you for the option. So, um, don’t.

  3. Pattern altitude is 1000 AGL for GA and 1500 AGL for airliners. That means you climb to there and stop. Not blast off to 10k and slowly drift down.

  4. Patterns are not full ILS approaches. 15 mile downwinds make it extremely difficult to work you in with other traffic. Fly the correct altitude and watch the glide scope. The two guys doing it right behind you shouldn’t pay for your lack of understanding.

There are any number of tutorials on this. Read them first. Then fly them. If you don’t feel like learning how to fly patterns, that’s okay. Don’t fly them. But scrapping the former and still doing the latter is not okay.]

Side note: The same applies to a proper go around. A go around is not an instant 360. You fly runway heading (perhaps with a slight lateral offset) past the threshold, then enter crosswind as you would for a pattern. It is not just a random circle without regard for the other traffic.


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