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  #1  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:23 AM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
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Default VFR Pattern Procedures?

In another thread poster commented that while in the pattern all he looked at was the airspeed and altimeter.

This got me thinking about how we fly the pattern. I’m not looking for a discussion regarding overhead breaks, 45 entries vs. straight in, etc. Everyone knows, or should know, that the FAA doesn’t consider you in the pattern until you are three miles from the runway, etc. Assume, for this discussion everyone is flying a left hand pattern.

While our planes are mostly the same, they are also very different based on engine, weight, prop, and model. This leads me to ask, how do you fly the pattern in your RV?

(Landing lights and boost pump are turned on three to five miles from the airport, once I reach TPA.)

I fly downwind such that my left wingtip traces a line along the center of the runway. Unless noted, my altitude is 1000’ AGL. I check the windsock to make sure I am not unknowingly landing with a tailwind. Call downwind. Abeam the numbers, throttle closed, I put in full flaps and trim it for my final approach speed. (55 to 60 Kts in my -9 depending on load.)

My goal is to make my designated landing spot without touching the throttle again. That landing spot can be the very end of the runway or a fixed distance marker on large runways. It doesn’t really matter but pick a spot and aim for it.

I look right for aircraft on wide base and straight out for aircraft on long final while cross checking my speed. As soon as the touchdown point slides behind my left shoulder I turn base, cross checking the airspeed and slip ball. I also look to see where my wingtip is in relation to my touchdown target, leading, lagging, high, low, etc. Call Base.

On base I start to look for cues as to my glide path. If I need to make adjustments, I use power for distance and pitch for speed. My speed should not waver from what I have elected to use. (A FP -9 will glide forever, if you pick up even a little extra speed.)

The base to final turn generates another quick glance at the airspeed and slip ball. (This is not a good time to stall!) It also provides another time to look for aircraft on final or executing a right pattern. On final I look to see if my glide path is going to take me to my intended touchdown point. I will slip it, if necessary to hit my mark, but only at 60 kts (or higher). Call turning final.

On final I determine what kind of crosswind I’m dealing with and keep in a crab until just before touchdown. My eyes will move between my touchdown target and airspeed indicator, slipping as required. If I have done everything correctly, no slipping is needed.

The touchdown is typically performed with my eyes looking way down the runway to judge my height. In a crosswind I will kick the plane straight and lower a wing, as required and land on one wheel just before touchdown. Because our planes so light, I will “plant” the mains on with a light forward push (My RV is a taildragger.) and hold the tail up until well past flying speed. (The -9, with its longer wing, is very susceptible to wind induced ballooning. That and trying to pull the tail down too quickly after a wheel landing will cause you to find yourself floating three feet off the runway waiting for the bottom to drop out.)

Once the tail is lowered, I pin the stick back and hold it that way until engine shutdown.
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Last edited by N941WR : 11-21-2013 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Added line about landing lights and boost pump
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  #2  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:37 AM
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aerorv6a aerorv6a is offline
 
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Location: Southeastern PA
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Default pattern

I fly an RV-6A, which is probably a bit different than a -9, so I'll give you my approach. First of all, I have never dumped all my flaps on downwind. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable in that configuration throughout the pattern. I usually deploy one notch, I'm not sure how many degrees that is off hand, when I get to about 100 knots, than turn base and deploy a second notch, and get it down to about 85 knots or so. When I turn final and I'm pretty sure I'm on glide path, I'll go to full flaps. I am usually at about 65 knots or so when I cross the threshold. I like to carry a little bit of margin in case of gusts. Other than that I approach the airport pretty much the same way you described.
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  #3  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:40 AM
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flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
 
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Default ....my way

Bill, I'm not sure I can be that good an analyst....so 2 ideas/observations for the rest of us.....

1. take a cockpit video of yourself..that would provide a LOT of info!
2. at our fairly busy field, no 2 circuits are ever the same. ....you are always asked to extend downwind, so 'final' becomes a long drag-in with power, unless you purposely stay high until the last mile.

that said, no reason you can't control and try to standardize your procedures.
up & down our valley, pretty much every airport has a modified circuit height, and shape, due to terrain.

...and I totally agree that it seems that crosswind gusts really pop you back in the air when you least expect it!
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Last edited by flyboy1963 : 11-21-2013 at 12:21 PM.
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  #4  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:58 AM
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bkilby bkilby is offline
 
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Default

I flew a 9A for a few years.. power was at idle at midfield.. not abeam the numbers.. otherwise I was flying a huge 172 pattern. I still do similar in the 6A and usually keep a tight pattern, dropping full flaps at 100mph, with a constant descending turn until touchdown. This is at a non-busy aerodrome.
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  #5  
Old 11-21-2013, 12:02 PM
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Toobuilder Toobuilder is offline
 
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My process varies greatly based upon the situation. I use a different process when using my 2600 x 30 home strip than I do for the 14,000 x 600 here at work. If I'm at home, we fly a 500 foot pattern, and I look for 80 abeam the approach end of the runway on downwind. At this point I simultaneously close the throttle fully, dump full flaps and start turning a 180. I slow to 65-70 in the turn and hopefully roll wings level while crossing the fence, and touch down a few seconds later. If I get it right, I don't have to touch the throttle except for the flare, I'm wings level for only a few seconds before touchdown, and I make the first brick of the runway.

Obviously, this plan won?t work when following a student flying a 2 mile final in a 150, but it's my preferred pattern. Tight, quick, no BS.
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  #6  
Old 11-21-2013, 12:11 PM
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rmartingt rmartingt is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by N941WR View Post
In another thread poster commented that while in the pattern all he looked at was the airspeed and altimeter.

This got me thinking about how we fly the pattern. I’m not looking for a discussion regarding overhead breaks, 45 entries vs. straight in, etc. Everyone knows, or should know, that the FAA doesn’t consider you in the pattern until you are three miles from the runway, etc. Assume, for this discussion everyone is flying a left hand pattern.

While our planes are mostly the same, they are also very different based on engine, weight, prop, and model. This leads me to ask, how do you fly the pattern in your RV?
In Dad's C/S -6, prop and mixture stay at their cruise settings during descent and pattern entry, until the prop goes to flat pitch and the RPMs start to drop. Prop control goes full forward then--a turn or two to make sure it's at the stops, then push it the rest of the way.

Downwind at 1000 AGL, runway around the wingtip (a bit farther out if I'm rusty like I usually am these days, closer in if traffic permits and I'm not rusty), throttle for 2300 RPM. At the numbers, pre-landing check--"everything forward, boost pump on, power, speed, flaps". That's prop and mixture full in, boost pump on, power to 1700 RPM, maintain altitude till speed drops to 70kt (or 75 if heavy) plus gust correction, then half flaps and pitch down to maintain speed.

Base turn is when the numbers are about 45deg aft. Call base and roll wings-level, quick check for anyone on a long final or upwind. If making a short field landing, I'll go to full flaps here, otherwise they stay at half.

I'm usually not on base for more than a couple seconds, so roll back in for final. Wings level and call final, then put in any crosswind correction needed. I aim for what would be about 3 white on a PAPI for glideslope, sometimes a bit more for practice. I'll hold my airspeed all the way to the flare for normal landings; short field I cross the fence around 65kt.

Starting to flare, I look further down the runway and speed bleeds to about 62-65, touch on the mains and pop the stick forward to pin the airplane. Throttle to idle, keep the tail up till it wants to drop, then set it down and pin it back. Apply braking as necessary, and I'll usually drop my right hand to the mixture and pull it out a little since the engine is much happier at idle if it's leaned a bit. Once down to a fast taxi I'll reach up and pop the canopy (slider), unless it's cold out. Turn off, boost pump off, strobes off, and lean some more.
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  #7  
Old 11-21-2013, 02:05 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Default shadow check

I fly way to many airpalnes at way to many airports under way to many weather conditions to have only one speific set of procedures, but I do follow a checklist (if it exists) or at least a GUMP check (if there is no checklist for the airplane).

But I will share a trick I have always used (if weather and sun angle cooperate) - the "Shadow Check". As I turn base to final, I look for my shadow on the ground - and then I make sure that there are no other shadows nearby. That is an easier way of assuring that you are not about to land on top of someone (or get landed upon) than trying to pick out an airplane that might be in your blind spot.

Paul
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  #8  
Old 11-21-2013, 02:35 PM
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bret bret is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
I fly way to many airpalnes at way to many airports under way to many weather conditions to have only one speific set of procedures, but I do follow a checklist (if it exists) or at least a GUMP check (if there is no checklist for the airplane).

But I will share a trick I have always used (if weather and sun angle cooperate) - the "Shadow Check". As I turn base to final, I look for my shadow on the ground - and then I make sure that there are no other shadows nearby. That is an easier way of assuring that you are not about to land on top of someone (or get landed upon) than trying to pick out an airplane that might be in your blind spot.

Paul
I have never thought of that, I like it!
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  #9  
Old 11-21-2013, 02:51 PM
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Low Pass Low Pass is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bret View Post
I have never thought of that, I like it!
Discovered I was a flight of two in very close formation once using this trick. Scary close. Very short final, cleared to land by the tower. I was in the -172, they were in a Cherokee. Never trust ATC 100%...
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  #10  
Old 11-21-2013, 03:12 PM
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flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
 
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Default what's in a name???

yeah, altho most ATC units are great, it's misleading to everyone to call them......'traffic CONTROL'.
so far, only the pilot can move the little sticks 'n knobs, thereby, you can't trust the other 'traffic' (pilots) 100%!

...more like, 50%....and you do the other 90%!

...and it sounds like, there are a LOT of variations to the 'standard' circuit....with some preferring to fly at 500' vs 1000', and a curving downwind to final...
( which we must do when RH at my field due to terrain)....so that's what still makes the circuit a place that seems to defy use of a single 'procedure'.
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