Right/Left Downwind/Base

I know what base, downwind, and those mean, but how do you tell if it’s left base or right base? Is it the pilots left/right?


Right base is perpendicular to the right of the runway, left base is perpendicular to the left of the runway.

Cheers :)


so, if I look to the left and there’s the runway, I’m on left downwind?


Check here:

How to fly a visual pattern

But for make it easy, if your left wing points towards the airport, you are on left downwind…aka later you are on left base…for example


This should help. Yes if you are on the left hand side of the runway you are in the left pattern, and if you are parallel to the runway that would be the left downwind.

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Left pattern = only left turns
Right pattern = only right turns


Thank you!!! I understand it, I’m still learning ATC but so far I love it.


i would use the glideslope triangle to use as the perspective. Left of the GS is left traffic, right of the GS is right traffic for that particular runway.

Do you mean the localiser? Localiser is for lateral guidance and glideslope is vertical guidance.

Another common thing I see is confusion when you are inbound to an airport and left/right is reversed due to your position.

Left/Right is from the perspective of the base of the active runway facing like you would be taking off. So if you are inbound and the ATC asks you to enter left downwind, it may mean you need to go to YOUR right depending on where you are at.


Yep the localiser, still pretty new to terms >< thanks for the correction =)

Yes pretty much that’s a good way to know.

I remember this by always using the runway in use. If you are facing headed towards the runway then the left side is left downwind and right side is right downwind.

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