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Proper PATTERN flying practice in c172/152..?

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Is there an official 'correct' and 'proper' way to fly a pattern...for practicing landings and takeoffs in a c172/152...What would they make me practice if I was in flight school in a c152 perhaps...I only fly small GA for now..For Example: I enjoy flying at my favorite field Coffs Harbour YSCH on the small GA runway... * Obviously, I assess wind direction and takeoff into the wind * After that, I just fly a nice long round pattern and return and land same direction-but I don't know what the proper procedure would be after takeoff...do I fly straight untill I reach a certain altitude and then start turning... if so,what altitude... also, when I start to 'turn' , which way to I turn (Into the wind,away from the wind, or it doesnt matter?) -how far do I fly past the runway till its time to start descending, what time for which flaps... and what does 'base leg' mean...Sorry for all the dumb questions....but I'm trying to learn a correct way to fly a pattern..not just flying around a circle like a crazy pilot! BTW - what is the difference of flying a pattern or flying a 'circuit'...?Thankyou Kindly for your assistance, PO'

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proper procedure would be after takeoff...do I fly straight untill I reach a certain altitude and then start turning...if so,what altitude...
Generally about 300-400 ft. No turns should be made until you reach this altitude.
which way to I turn (Into the wind,away from the wind, or it doesnt matter?)
Normally airports have they preferred side for such pattern flying. You have to see what is published for the airport.
how far do I fly past the runway till its time to start descending, what time for which flaps...
That depends on the pilot since he may want to practice short final, emergency landing, etc. A standard turn to base leg is usually madewhen you can look back and see runway threshold at about 45 deg. angle. You would normally deploy your first notch of flapswhen abeam the runway threshold and then add flaps progressively. You would start your descent while turning base.
and what does 'base leg' mean...
This is the leg which is perpendicular to the runway on the side of your final approach. If you can picture there are 4 legs - in shape of rectangular.By the way, why can't you google "VFR pattern flying" - you get nice pictures.

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You would normally deploy your first notch of flapswhen abeam the runway threshold and then add flaps progressively. You would start your descent while turning base.
Excellent feedback Michal, thankyou... abeam the runway..Lined up?Also...as I get about a 45 degree angle or so to the runway threshhold, I will start my turn and descent to the base leg...correct?So, no flaps untill I'm lined up with the runway? Should I reduce power upon my start of turn and descent with no flaps untill I'm lined up with the runway?Previuosly....I reduced my speed to flaps deployable speed, about 85kts, then lowered to first flaps setting and started my final turn and descent...adjusting power and mainting speed at 85 kts thru the turn/descent...Is there a more precise procedure when starting the turn to base....slowing to a correct speed...when to hit first flaps, when to deploy seond, third, etc..Thanks again..PO'

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The organisation I am training under has a web site that is full of material for learning to fly. It is free too. The main page is http://www.auf.asn.au/groundschool/contents.html and the page to do with circuits is at http://www.auf.asn.au/groundschool/umodule12.html.Some of the it might be a little hard to understand if you jump straight into the middle so if you really want to learn how to do it right then the main page at http://www.auf.asn.au/groundschool/contents.html is the place to start.In Australia we aren't allowed to turn crosswind until 500 feet AGL. Part of the reason for this is due to engine failure (another is that if you start a turn at 500 feet and stall you should be able to recover, any lower increases the risk greatly). The aircraft doesn't climb as well when turning and is more prone to stalling so you want to get as much height as fast as possible after takeoff because the higher you are the more options you have for an emergency landing.

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I have to say I am precisely not an expert in this at all...What I have learned is to climb to 500 feet before making a turn.In propeller-driven aircraft, you will be fighting the torque generated by the engine to a certain extent. Turning into the torque makes your turns a little easier, turning away makes them harder. Wind may also be a factor. However, you can look at approach plates or procedures for many airports and find out what direction the pattern is, if any. While opinions and conditions may vary, I would be against setting flaps until the runway is lined up. My reasoning is that your workload is higher during a turn, and flap management might be more difficult -- it's tougher to monitor your instruments during a turn. Of course, there are circumstances that may require you to get flaps out sooner, so this is an advisement rather than a rule. Make sure your aircraft is in good trim and control speed with the pitch of the aircraft nose and altitude with the throttle.And now for the bad news (unless money is no object):If you can invest in a TrackIR, I strongly suggest this hardware as an aid to keeping your cockpit situational awaress at its peak.http://www.avsim.com/pages/0206/IR4/IR4.htmAn excellent book is FSX For Real World Pilots, which will give you plenty of instruction on good flight drills.http://www.avsim.com/pages/0208/Wiley/Book.htmFinally, FSFlyingSchool is a decent enough utility for practising drills, although it's more like a checkride than a flight school.http://www.avsim.com/pages/1207/FlightScho...lightSchool.htmOf course, the free version is to look online, or here at AVSIM for more answers, and if you own FSX, you can look up the Learning Venter which has some good info.Jeff ShylukSenior Staff ReviewerAVSIM

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Make sure your aircraft is in good trim and control speed with the pitch of the aircraft nose and altitude with the throttle.
Wow,Thanks for the links folks...I sure appreciate them..!The above pic has thrown the light on for me...

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In my c152, flying the downwind part, I am usually about 2,000' AGL
Your first big mistake. You never fly patterns in a small prop Cessna at 2000 AGL. You do it at 1000 max. Many small airports ask for pattern to be flown around 600-800 ft AGL. Boeings and other big jets fly patterns at 2000 ft. AGL.
So, no flaps untill I'm lined up with the runway?
I never said that. I said no flaps until "abeam" of threshold. But even this is not necessarily cast in stone.I also see a tendency in your question to hunt for prescription for exactness. As a real pilot you would have to learn different types of patterns - some are very short and some can be very extended (say for traffic). You must know how to handle all of them. You have to learn how to handle power/speed and flaps to get the result you want - namely getting to the threshold of the runway with the correct energy. This is something that no way can be written about - you have to practice it. These are basic flying skills. As a pilot you have to learn to evaluate your position in relation to runway and apply power and flaps to successfully land. If you carry too much energy you have to learn techniques to lose this excess of energy.

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Your first big mistake. You never fly patterns in a small prop Cessna at 2000 AGL. You do it at 1000 max. Many small airports ask for pattern to be flown around 600-800 ft AGL. Boeings and other big jets fly patterns at 2000 ft. AGL.I never said that. I said no flaps until "abeam" of threshold. But even this is not necessarily cast in stone.I also see a tendency in your question to hunt for prescription for exactness. As a real pilot you would have to learn different types of patterns - some are very short and some can be very extended (say for traffic). You must know how to handle all of them. You have to learn how to handle power/speed and flaps to get the result you want - namely getting to the threshold of the runway with the correct energy. This is something that no way can be written about - you have to practice it. These are basic flying skills. As a pilot you have to learn to evaluate your position in relation to runway and apply power and flaps to successfully land. If you carry too much energy you have to learn techniques to lose this excess of energy.
Well said Michal, and understood...A big many thanks for your time...PO'

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The diagram you have posted describes what is known in Europe as an "overhead join" (a join simply describes the method of entry into the circuit), although here the initial approach is more usually at 2000ft agl http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/srg_gad_oheadjoin_poster.pdf There are other ways of joining the circuit - downwind, crosswind, base leg and so on. What's best will depend on the direction from which you are coming. If you look in the Learning Center that comes as part of FS, you'll find a whole section devoted to the subject.BTW, "pattern" is just American for circuit. :(

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That diagram of the airport traffic pattern is just about spot on, with 1 exception. You want you flight path to overfly the middle of the runway, not over the middle of Final. Being a private pilot myself, I don't turn after take-off until 600 feet AGL if I'm staying in the pattern, or 1000 AGL if you are leaving the traffic pattern, reason being a climbing turn uses up much more energy than simply climbing, and having an emergency you want every foot of altitude you can get.As for the configuring the aircraft to descend the pattern and land, you want to have the right altitude/speed/power/trim before your in the middle of downwind, otherwise its going to be difficult to get the aircraft to do what you want it. If you start your approach fast your going to be fast all the way down to land and your going to have to fight with it.I've never flown a Cessna, but for a Piper Cherokee which should be relatively similar. The procedure for a 160hp Cherokee with 1 passenger landing in light wind would be something like,Downwind - 93kts, 2250rpm, 10 degree flaps, 1000ft or traffic altitudeDownwind abeam beginning of runway begins the descent - 93kts, 1850rpm, 10 degree flaps (Tip: If the airplane was trimmed for the 93kts, when you pull the power to 1850, the airplane still wants to fly at 93, so without moving the yoke it will pitch down automatically to maintain 93, a big mistake most novice make is over-controlling, forcing it to pitch down instead of letting the plane do the work)At Base you should be at (runway should be behind your wing, IR Tracker helps here) - 83kts, 1750rpm, 20degree flaps and around 650 ftAt turn to Final you should be at - 63kts, 1650rpm, 40 degree flaps and 350-400ft and beginning to stabilize as you line up for short final.I always set power/flaps during the turn, you may find it easier to do it before or after the turn, either way works fine just as long as the correct adjustments are madeEventually you will learn what power settings will give you a good descent. The ones I posted are just an example. if you find yourself too high you can always do a crab/side-slip which will burn excess altitude without increasing speed or adjust any plane settings. I've done a 1000ft short final approach with an instructor, took full rudder and opposite aileron and no power, but still landed on the runway like any normal landing.A hint on proper trimming: Always set the power first, hold the pitch, then lastly set the trim, all trim does is relieve the back pressure you have applied to the yoke, doing this technique out of order will not keep the aircraft stable for very long, if at all and increase workload.

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Here's another picture, really basic, shows the "standard" 45 degree left downwind entry. Patterns are normally flown at 600-1000 ft AGL. When I was learning to fly they told me to keep my wing tip over the runway while on downwind. That way you know how far away to fly from the airport. (This is in case of engine failure or something you can do a power off landing with ease)Traffic_Pattern_small.jpg

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If you are planning to take up flying for real, you need to know that some of these procedures (e.g. the 45 degree mid-downwind join, flying overhead mid field) are specifically American, and not applicable in many other countries, where for example downwind joins are direct to the start of the downwind leg. Of course in that situation you should pay attention to what your QFI says, not what you read on a forum, whatever country you're in.If you're not planning to take up flying RW, then it really doesn't matter. You can take the same attitude that FS does, and turn the whole world American, or you can be "as real as it gets" and find out the correct procedures for the country in which you are flying (most of it is on the web for a small amount of googling). Personally I prefer the latter (you probably guessed! :( ), and yes I am a RW PPL in the UK.

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If you're not planning to take up flying RW, then it really doesn't matter. You can take the same attitude that FS does, and turn the whole world American, or you can be "as real as it gets" and find out the correct procedures for the country in which you are flying (most of it is on the web for a small amount of googling). Personally I prefer the latter (you probably guessed! :( ), and yes I am a RW PPL in the UK.
Thinking about it I will have to do some different circuit entries over the next couple of weeks as all I have done so far is crosswind joins and I haven't got that far to go before I can do my certification test.In Australia, some airfields use non-standard circuits because of terrain clearance or to stay out of restricted airspace but I haven't seen one yet (I only have ~24 hours so I haven't seen a lot :-)) that specifies a circuit height _lower_ than 1000 feet AGL. Does anyone know of any?There is an idea for a web site. A place where virtual instructors can teach virtual students using shared cockpits... :-)

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