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stampee

ATC landing statements, proper flight procedure

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HI all: I am unsure as to proper flight patterns upon landing. I consistantly hear ATC make the following statement. When I am flying a heading of 240 ATC will say. "Make right downwind runway 4R"I know I land on runway 4R what does make right downwind mean? Maybe if you could tell me the following it would help to explain.Which direction do I make my final turn onto runway 4R to the left and onto final, or to the right?I know what downwind is, but this "make right" really confuses me.Thanks all.-Stampee

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Right downwind means you have to enter the traffic pattern downwind at the right of the runway. So ATC never means your right, but always thinks with the runway in mind. I always try to imagine a topdown view of the runway I have to land on as I would see it on final (runway on the north), then I imagine the traffic patterns, left and right, and then I 'mentally' place that picture on the HSI (runway on the right course) or (in case I see the airfield already) I turn that picture into its real life placement. If you know what I mean. ;) Then it's easy to know how to approach the airfield from your current position. Here's a pic I found using Google:http://www.flightsimbooks.com/13mike-vfr/135-1.jpgSo you will be making a turn to the right onto final. (I wouldn't try to make those sharp turns you see in that picture, though... :( )EDIT:Ha, what a coincidence: the picture also show a runway 4 and a plane flying approx. (well, almost...) at 240! :)BTW I always focus on the opposite direction when nearing the airfield and before entering a pattern on downwind. So in this case I wouldn't focus on getting to 4 but on 22: that's the direction I finally have to fly in to make a nice pattern. I only start to focus on 4 when I am on downwind and have to make the turn to base. I always set the course needle to the runway heading and the heading bug to the opposite direction. Making the final turns and getting right in front of the runway is a lot easier with the needles are pointing in the right direction.

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There are a number of ways you can join the circuit pattern, and these are described by the point at which you join it. Typically these would be downwind, base or final (straight in). There are others, but let's not worry about them. The point at which you join depends on the direction from which you're approaching - ATC will try to give you the most direct route.The traffic pattern is always on one side of the runway or the other, very rarely both (parallel runways are the usual exception, and often gliders or microlights might have their own separate circuit pattern). This will make it a right hand pattern (all turns are to the right), or a left hand pattern (all turns are to the left).So "Right downwind" tells us two things: 1: We've been asked to join on the downwind leg (Some countries use a 45 degree approach to mid-downwind - see the diagram above), and 2: the pattern is right-hand. This means all turns are to the right (except that initial 45 degree turn onto downwind), and when we are downwind, the runway will be on our right. I have no idea why American ATC says "make" rather than (say) "join". maybe it's simply a dialect thing?

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I'm very rusty on real world piloting, but from what I remember the left traffic pattern is the standard pattern. The reason is it easier for the pilot to keep the runway in sight since your sitting on the left side. Right traffic is used when a left pattern might have problems with obstacles, population, other airports, things like that.

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WOW: Thank you both for clear and concise answers. I greatly appreciate it. J. Van. I thought you had drawn that image with the correct numbers! What a coincidance they showed the headings I was refering too! I have been flying the 172 and nothing else because I figure if I ever do get a chance to really fly someday, I will likely start off on that aircraft. I am having great fun learning, but without knowing proper procedures I was hindering myself before without both of your's advice.Thank you to you both once again.-Stampee

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