Turkey of a Pattern

November 24, 2009 by Bruce Landsberg

turkeyAs our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that a maneuver I witnessed last weekend at a very busy non-towered airport didn’t test Newton’s second law . As I was waiting in the lineup for takeoff , the frequency was abuzz with everyone reporting various legs in perfect VFR weather. A Mooney on base leg apparently didn’t see the Cirrus flying a much wider base. He should have but didn’t.

The Mooney turned final as did the Cirrus and both announced but nobody, it seems, was looking or listening.  The Cirrus rapidly overtook the Mooney and it looked like there would be widely scattered composite and aluminum in the forecast. I advised the Cirrus pilot that he had a Mooney at his 12 o’clock low on final.

Most pilots would have acknowledged, sidestepped to the right to keep the traffic ahead in sight and started a climb straight ahead to re-enter downwind at least midfield or beyond.  This particular runway has right traffic. The Cirrus pilot announced he was starting a left 360 so as to re-enter on final from the left side. I probably overstepped my bounds by again advising the Cirrus that he would come head-to-head with another aircraft on right base. Unfazed, the Cirrus pilot tucked in closely behind a Cessna that was following the Mooney. The second aircraft may have “just” cleared the runway when the Cirrus touched down. It was an astounding piece of airmanship!

After reflecting on this for 48 hours, here are some observations:  Midair collisions are rare – average less than 10 per year. They are often serious with fatalities on one or both aircraft. They frequently result in significant reactions from media and the non-flying public even if the wreckage doesn’t cause significant ground damage. Remember the Hudson collision?  It was the first one in the corridor in 45 years and the changes are far reaching. This situation had huge negative potential for this airport based on this pilot’s spur-of-the-moment decision to take a shortcut.

Here are two Safety Advisors for review:

Operations at Non-Towered Airports ( PDF) and

Collision Avoidance ( PDF)

I’m asking for your opinions as a sounding board:

1. I should have kept quiet after the first warning. Nothing wrong with a 360 – There’s no rule against it -and it all worked out.

2. The Cirrus pilot should have flown a normal miss and re-entered the downwind. Get out the tar and feathers – track down the miscreant and make him read the AIM cover to cover!

3. Other — you’ll have to do some writing here.

Don’t lurk -lock in your votes and if you have a chance,  go flying this holiday. Heads up – eyes out!

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

ASI Online Safety Courses  |  ASI Safety Quiz  |  Support the AOPA Foundation

73 Responses to “Turkey of a Pattern”

  1. Bruce Ziegler Says:

    2) A standard pattern and approach is the right solution at a busy field. Be where you are expected to be and where you can best be seen.

  2. Dan Brown Says:

    The Cirrus pilot definitely needed to break right and go around. However, even if you technically have the right of way, it is far better to break off and go around yourself when there is a good chance the other pilot may not.

  3. David Reinhart Says:

    Given that the Cirrus pilot was already having trouble spotting traffic in the pattern, I think he should have done a miss to the right side of the runway and re-entered the pattern. Telling him differently didn’t change his behavior but might have had a different outcome with another pilot.

  4. Ken Appleby Says:

    You did the right thing. Alerting the Cirrus to teh potential hazard of executing a 360 was both within your right and within his/her right to ignore. There is no question that the safest course was to execute a go-around and re-enter downwind. Particularly with such a fast aircraft. Frankly, this is an example of why I tend to avoid uncontrolled fields (particularly busy ones) unless I really have no choice. In 30 years of flying I have had a number of instances where a person in the pattern engaged in “unexpected” behavior. While it has not gotten worse, I am not sure it has gotten better depite all of the educational attempts (and kudos to the ASF for the great job you do). I guess there will always be that 5% that feel they can do it their way and no one will tell them differently.

  5. Bob H. Says:

    Why does the Cirrus have to “re-enter” the pattern anywhere? Isn’t there an upwind segment IN the traffic pattern?

    It absolutely amazes me that 360’s are taught (or learned as a spacing technique in towered airport operations), and yet it’s a rare day when pilots connect the dots between rectangular pattern practice and using it for re-sequencing themselves in the pattern.

    I can only wonder if that is the same Cirrus from last July that rolled from the run-up block to the numbers for 23 without ever seeing or hearing the aircraft entering the pattern and turning final for 5.

  6. Jahan Says:

    Going “missed” was the only responsible option for the Cirrus pilot.

    In ten years of flying, I have been tightly “tail-gaited” on final twice by faster aircraft trying to “push” me along, and unbelieveably one VFR afternoon while on short final for Napa, California I was passed on the right by an impatient Pilatus driver!

    Guys, be aware, and be patient. Remember, there’s no checkered flag and no trophy girls to kiss for the first one to the numbers!

  7. Sid Says:

    Go around and re-enter. Would have added maybe five minutes.

  8. Dick Kruse Says:

    The is NO reason that Cirrus in a pattern of any size should be “OVERTAKING” a Mooney. As a CSIP and Chief Flight Instructor for a large general aviation flight operation and flying Mooneys of all types regularily, I see Cirrus pilots who believe that they must fly faster than everyone else regardless of where or what they are doing. The Cirrus is a fine ship and will slow down and fly the pattern with almost any other traffic if the pilot is thinking, but time and again, I see them making high speed patterns, despite supposedly being “trained and checked out”, they are displaying not ignorance but arrogance.

  9. John Says:

    You should have advised the Cirrus to simply deploy its parachute and land wherever the wind took it. (kidding here, folks, don’t firewall your throtles on me!)

  10. Paul Miller Says:

    You were perfectly correct in your warning to the Cirrus pilot. If I had done anything like that at my airport, my instructor or the FSB deal with would have cornered me when I landed.
    I can hear the “voice” of my instructor saying to me “Go around”.
    I remember many times during my training at a simi-busy non-towered strip when my instructor would have me extend the downwind or pull up and execute a missed approach.
    The Cirrus should have pull up and out of the pattern and performed an upwind leg to the side.

  11. Harvey Ackermann Says:

    You were right to advise the Cirrus pilot. Too many pilots try to “sneak” into uncontrolled airports. Even if the Cirrus pilot didn’t respond to your advise, you provided a “heads up” to others in the pattern.

  12. John Majane Says:

    I see this kind of action frequently at my home airport (KFDK) a lot of folks are in a hurry to get where they are going. People do not space themselves out when necessary. Add to this at my home base that there are no taxi ways until midway up the runway additional spacing is needed which compounds the situation.

    This was just sloppy piloting by the Cirrus Pilot without concern for himself or others. You did the right thing by telling the Cirrus he was overtaking the Mooney though he might have already known it. He did the wrong thing by doing the 360 and should have gone around side stepping the runway and entering an upwind.


  13. Rodney Armstrong Says:

    You were correct to warn the Cirrus pilot and warn him as many times as you felt were necessary. If there had been a collision and you had chose to stay silent???

    It seems to me the Cirrus pilot violated the FARs by making a left 360 turn. It does keep him out of the traffic initially, but if the traffic is right hand, then the FARs say all turns must be made to the right.

  14. David B. Says:

    Making the call to the Cirrus was the right thing . If we as pilots do not police our own ranks the FAA will do it for us. I have never met a pilot who could not learn something new from others advice although there seem to be plenty who will not. Why is there a right traffic pattern for that runway could it be something located near the base leg that now becomes an issue if you execute a left 360 on final ? Tar and feather the guy.

  15. James Tipton Says:

    Just in time coaching is sometimes all we have to prevent an accident. I was involved in a pattern coaching session this past weekend where a Mooney pilot decided to fly a 747 sized pattern at 350 feet below the published pattern altitude. I never received an acknowledgement over the frequency when I informed the pilot of his total disregard for the safety of his fellow pilots, but I am sure he heard me.

  16. Ken Towl Says:

    No question about your call being the right thing – unfortunate that it was necessary.

    We should all remember that pilots’ learning opportunities continue long after certificates are signed. Practicing at a well-disciplined non-tower field is one of those opportunities – safe, considerate pattern work can become a self-sustaining local tradition and a magnet for the “right” kind of flyers who will carry those lessons everywhere they go.

  17. Ronald Demmler Says:

    It has been my opinion for many years that pilots do not know or even care to know and follow correct pattern procedures.
    As to whether or not you did the right thing is not for me to say although if I was the Mooney pilot, I may have went for the fly around myself. I have done this for jets coming in behind me.

  18. Michael Floyd Says:

    What about the Mooney pilot? Didn’t he set off this “event” by cutting in line? If the Cirrus pilot was unresponsive , should you have warned the Mooney he may want to go around?

  19. Eric Says:

    I agree with most you did the right thing. One of the basic problems I see is CFi’s have a lot of different opinins on this subject. The FAR lays it out and a lot of pilots just don’t listen. As Ronald said when i fly into CHA and I have commercial Jets behind me I know the controlers have done their job with spacing but sometimes I just get out of the way until I’m confortable with everything. I like to know where everyone is, I know I don’t know what they are going to do so I like to be clear when I’m landing.

  20. Steve G Says:

    I see the pattern police are out in force again today.
    Bruce, you got the answers that you expected, I really don’t see why you even asked for comment. The response was entirely predictable.
    “If” there was an imminent danger of collision, it “may” have been correct to alert the Cirrus pilot on short final. Beyond that, you simply got involved in something that was nothing to do with you.
    If you wanted to teach the Cirrus pilot how to fly a correct pattern, then take down his number and follow up on the ground. I hear far too many pilots (of whatever grand pedigree) correcting the behavior of others on the radio. It is unprofessional, clutters up the airwaves and is very often (not in this case of course) just a display of ego.
    Maybe you started this exchange off right, you certainly didn’t finish it that way.

  21. ron v Says:

    Of course you were correct. If I were not aware of a potentially dangerous situation I certainly would want to be warned. The problem lies with the Cirrus pilot… he could either take the coaching or not… apparently he didn’t. I don’t know what it is about resisting proper, in pattern go arounds, as they are the safest maneuver when required. This is true even at towered airports. I recently was cleared for landing #2 while on downwind. After turning base and final I decided that, even though cleared, my spacing with #1 was not adequate. I simply told the tower that I would go around and try again. No big deal. Maybe added 5 min to my flight.

  22. Ronald hays Says:

    Good call on the advisory, even if you were at a controlled airport. You may have saved a life or two and at the least, avoided some more negative media about small GA aircraft.

    I must take issue with the responders who make reference to the F.A.R.’s as being specific in how a pattern is to be flown; and this is the crux of the challenge. The rules are too general, allowing for multiple interpretations and though establishing most guidelines, they (or any other authoratative publication I have been able to locate) fail to set the EXCACT procedure for pattern entry, airspeed, seperation or missed procedures. How can even the best of pilots know exactly “what to expect” when there are no exact details and the FAR’s end by referencing “local procedures which may be different”.

    The pattern police would not be necessary if the pattern rules were precise, specific and mutually understood by all pilots reflecting clear, unambiguous language by the FAA. The divirsity of the responses is the perfect example of the fallacy that “everyone knows how to fly the pattern at an uncontrolled airport”. Thanks for opening up such an important discussion of such a widely misunderstood subject.

  23. Steve Vana Says:

    Going around using a left hand pattern just sets up another possible conflict when the left base meets the right base head-on. Use the standard pattern as prescribed in the AIM, particularly when flying something like a Cirrus. I seem to notice more pilots of these aircraft performing non-standard manuevers at our field lately. I have been flying since 1975 and I don’t think it’s just the usual complement of “hot-shots” in aviation. It may be that there are more people that can afford to fly these capable aircraft while not having the real experience of “hours”. A healthy respect for safety sometimes only comes from having witnessed tragic incidents or having friends end up buying the farm for their transgressions.

  24. drew Says:

    in the interest of devils advocate and an alternate point of view, traffic pattern direction is recommended by the aim not required. operationally he was probably so startled by the interference of the ground person that he figured the best way out of there might have been the left 360 particularly if he knew there was a plane on the right downwind. now with all aircraft in view he could insert himself into the flow as he did without bending metal.

    also having been told to do exactly that manuever at a towered airport and having been criticized for not making it a 2 minute perfectly circular turn, i can sympasize

    btw using your logic he should have sidestepped to the left in a right pattern.(thus entering the upwind for a right pattern).

    the bottom line is see and be seen

    also even though your suggestions should be welcome , he was the pilot in command and authorized to make the decision, not the observer on the ground or the armchair critics.

    i once had an observer on the ground intentionally falsely call traffic forcing the use of a downwind runway which he wanted me to use. never again will i let ground personell make the decision..

    i have also while on the ground called out opposing traffic to two aircraft in the air using opposing runways apearing to be headed to a headon., so i can understand the logic for adding that information.

    overall i believe some people get way too upset on patterns

  25. Kevin Beecher Says:

    IMHO: While clearly the Cirrus should have gone around like we are all taught, I think your involvement was good on idea, bad on implementation. Had an accident occurred after either of your calls, you would have been investigated as to the amount, if any, your calls contributed to or were factors in the accident. Given that the Cirrus and the Mooney weren’t listening to each other, the odds are pretty good they weren’t listening to you, either. (Aviate, navigate, then communicate.) I think it would have been better to make an announcement such as, “All aircraft in the pattern at … be advised that there is a Mooney and Cirrus on final and there is a high potential of a collision. Be prepared to abort your landings.” In this manner you are helping make other aircraft in the pattern aware of the danger and where the danger exists without possibly involving yourself in an investigation as to the factors contributing to the collision, should it occur.

  26. Philip Says:

    Correct to make the call. I always like a heads up no matter how badly it makes me look. Though I think it is incorrect to assume the Cirus pilot was making a wider base than usual because of poor pilotage. The fault in this instance lies with the Mooney for failing to follow traffic on the extended base and cutting inside the Cirrus.

    I think the safest course of action would have been the missed and re-enter downwind with the rest of traffic. However the Cirrus turned the right way for the 360 since, as a low wing aircraft, he could keep eyes on traffic in the pattern as he re-entered on final, and since he did not land until the other aircraft had cleared the runway, no matter how soon thereafter, his spacing was sufficient.

    Bottom line is the Mooney failed to follow the traffic on the extended downwind and setup the situation that the Cirrus pilot safely sorted out. No matter what anyone here things of his solution. More than likely the Cirrus was wide because there may have been significantly slower traffic in front of him forcing him wide. Or I’m just giving him the benefit of the doubt for the wide pattern and telling everyone else to just deal with it.

  27. Steve G Says:

    drew Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    “in the interest of devils advocate and an alternate point of view, traffic pattern direction is recommended by the aim not required”

    This is a very common misconception. The direction of traffic at an uncontrolled airport is MANDATED by FAR 91.126(b)(1)
    § 91.126 Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class G airspace.

    (a) General. Unless otherwise authorized or required, each person operating an aircraft on or in the vicinity of an airport in a Class G airspace area must comply with the requirements of this section.

    (b) Direction of turns. When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace—

    (1) Each pilot of an airplane must make all turns of that airplane to the left unless the airport displays approved light signals or visual markings indicating that turns should be made to the right, in which case the pilot must make all turns to the right;

    If it was a right pattern at this airport, the Cirrus was entirely wrong in making a left 360 and requires at very least (along with several posters here) some remedial training.

  28. Cary Alburn Says:

    We all make mistakes, no matter how many years/hours we have behind the yoke. If I make a mistake that I’m not catching and someone else informs me of it over the radio, I don’t take offense and I certainly try to take any comments into account in my efforts to correct it.

    Regardless of who was at fault here (and that’s up for grabs, depending on point of view) or who was making “aviate” mistakes, it was apparent that the Cirrus driver didn’t see the Mooney on short final–and not to say something would have been a moral mistake. You were right to comment on the radio the first time.

    Whether your second comment helped is also up for grabs–it may or may not have been considered. But if the Cirrus pilot needs “help” with his basic aviation knowledge, probably the best thing to do is grab his tail number and call your friendly FAA Safety Counselor, letting him/her handle it from there–that’s why they volunteer their services, to help pilots who need it.

    My observation over the last 3 1/2 decades that I’ve been flying is that many drivers of high performance airplanes fly their approaches way too fast. But I’m not surprised that a Cirrus overtakes a Mooney on final–the Mooney stalls at 50 knots (1.3 Vso being approximately 65 knots, so a fairly common Mooney approach speed is 70 knots), whereas a Cirrus stalls at 60 knots (1.3 Vso being approximately 78 knots–I would think 80 knots would be a typical approach speed). BTW, I haven’t flown a Cirrus, but I have a few hundred hours in Mooneys. I’m also not surprised that the Cirrus driver flew a large pattern–also a fairly typical high performance error. And I’m not surprised that the Mooney driver turned inside the Cirrus pattern–I can’t recall how many times I’ve not seen another aircraft supposedly in the pattern, nor can I recall how many times I’ve heard a call, saw the aircraft, and it was clearly not where the pilot said it was.

    So there’s plenty of room for distribution of fault here–but if your initial call or your second call averted an accident, then it’s good that you did so.


  29. Steve Says:

    If I can manage to not overtake a Cessna 172 while flying a King Air 200, surely a Cirrus should be able to keep adequate spacing behind a Mooney.

  30. Ryan Says:

    I think the Cirrus should read up on the AIM and burn a little more gas.

  31. Jeroen Says:

    All pilots (and normal humans) make mistakes. We as fellow pilots should not chew on someone’s back without at least hearing their vision on the event. Secondly we should always try and learn form others.
    That being said, in my opinion an error in judgment was made only once. That is when the Cirrus pilot decide to make a 360 (left or right, doesn’t matter) on final as opposed to a missed approach. The rest is part of the normal traffic pattern. We try to see and avoid each other, but that doesn’t always work out the way we want, especially where everybody comes together like on final. On top of that we might be way to busy flying to hear the radio.

    I fly a Piper Cheyenne from a small Dutch airport, usually with four or more smaller and slower airplanes in the extremely small pattern. In general we may see three quarters of them and hear half. We are therefore in a habit of making 360’s, go-arounds and even exit-and-reentry maneuvers. We never-ever though make a 360 on final or base. Two reasons for that. It’s impossible two accurately see or hear what’s behind you before it’s possibly too late. Two, it gives the opponents of our airport more ammunition to complain about these noisy, low flying polluters. One might also consider if making a turning maneuver away from a runway at low altitude is a wise one, but I’ll leave that open for debate.

    Giving each other advise about critical situations over the radio is certainly not pollution of the airwaves, provided it is conducted in a polite and professional way. It certainly helps at our airport and avoids bigger embarrassment and even collisions almost every flying day.

    In short, Bruce, I vote number 2.


  32. Dj Merrill Says:

    I think you did the right thing. I would also have encouraged you to track down the Cirrus pilot and have a calm and professional conversation with him/her after they landed. None of us are perfect, and if I screw up I would hope someone would have the concern and responsibility to come talk to me about it. Perhaps I was unaware that I did something boneheaded. How else am I to learn?

    From some of the previous comments here it seems a lot of people are afraid to speak up, which in my opinion is an even greater tragedy, especially when it comes to safety related issues. Who better to offer help than a fellow pilot? Surely that is a better option than getting help from the medical examiner or coroner.


  33. joe holland Says:

    a 360 in the traffic pattern,especially on final, is asinine;for a whole host of reasons

    This type of complacancy keeps GA in the headlines.

    Remember the Bonanzas at Los Alamos!

  34. Chicken man Says:

    # 2

  35. Bruce Chien Says:

    Of course your first call was correct. Think how you would have felt after the firetrucks put out the remaining hunk of carbon at the fence.

    The campaign here is not against Cirrus pilots, it’s against inappropriate behaviors by pilots who can’t remember where to find the AIM, or can’t be bothered reading it. The Mooney guy on final is ahead and lower and can’t see behind him, no matter how they each got there.

    Recently a gaggle of RVs made an overhead break at my home airport, which is public use. They utterly terrorized a student pilot on solo in the pattern. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to go by the same playbook. Yes, it costs you a gallon and 0.2 to give way. But there are, sadly a lot of pilots who validate the sterotype of their type- the Cirrus” guy who has an infallablible machine and can’t wait his turn; the RV “wanna be military” guys, etc.

    The biggest danger at the airport is always confusion. Go by the federal playbook, “go around”. Do the overhead break when nobody is around, or at your own private field.

    At least MOST of the other pilots understand what “going aroun” is, and where to look for you.

    Do NOT chase this guy down. Ask an Aviation Safety Counselor to do it for you. I would have refrained from the second call. I the pilot can’t figure out the hazard he’s creating, let the ASC help him out before Darwin does.

  36. Dave B Says:

    In addition to the original transmission to the Cirrus pilot, I’d have considered a general announcement on the frequency to all pilots in the pattern, “XYZ traffic, be advised that some yahoo in a Cirrus is doing a left 360 in right hand traffic pattern and evidently plans to cut into the pattern on final.”

    From Chapter 4 of the AIM”
    “It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports.”

  37. Ric Lee Says:


    You made the right call. I would rather be embarrassed by not seeing the
    other aircraft than swapping paint.

    In a crowded pattern there is a high risk of collision by doing a 360. I would
    have side-stepped and gone around, a much safer maneuver.

  38. Owen DeLong Says:

    You did the right thing. You did everything you could to prevent a collision. Too bad the Cirrus didn’t see fit to behave in a similar manner.

    Every pilot should always do everything possible to avoid a collision. Especially in the traffic pattern. A 360 may have been a legal alternative in this case (although a right 360 is not legal at an uncontrolled field with a left pattern as the regulation states “all turns shall be made to the left unless… (right hand pattern)” However, in any case, it certainly was questionable at best when it comes to safety.

    Overtaking another aircraft in the pattern if you can do otherwise is unforgivable.

  39. Travis W. Says:

    I think that you did the right thing to inform the Cirrus pilot the right thing to do, and to advise him of his poor decision.

    Number 1 how would you have felt if you said nothing and an accident occurred?

    Number 2, it should have perked everyone’s ears up that there was a cowboy pilot loose in the pattern and to look out!

  40. Ron Says:

    It was good to give the first traffic alert and prudent to give the second one. As long as it’s concise, this isn’t clogging the frequency; that’s what it’s for, as opposed to the unnecessary chatter I often hear on CTAF. And of course, some or all of the traffic may not be tuned in to CTAF, equipped with radio, or even if they hear you they may elect to fly as they see fit for the situation. At a non-towered field, pilots have to see and avoid and anyone giving a traffic alert is helping them do that. Trying to direct traffic without the authority to do so is another matter.

    Making a left 360 turn for a right traffic runway at a non-towered field violated the FARs. I suspect the Cirrus did it because he/she had been directed to do something similar at a towered field where the controller can sequence right and left traffic for the same runway.

    If you want to be a good citizen, next time take down the tail number and give the facts to the FAA’s Aviation Safety Counselor and let them follow-up on this.
    I appreciate you for starting the conversation and helping us think further about what is legal, safe and prudent in situations like this. The go-around is one of the least used safety maneuvers we have and each pilot needs to examine why they are reluctant/resistant to use it.

  41. Pat Kelly Says:

    #2. I don’t want that pilot in the pattern with me!

  42. Rankin Whittington Says:

    I vote number two.

    I think that a general announcement to traffic that a dangerous situation is occurring has the added benefit of embarrassing the perpetrators in front of anyone who’s listening.

    Why are instructors teaching lightplane pilots to fly bomber landing patterns?

  43. Peter Says:

    I’ve seen worse. While turning base at an uncontrolled field, a Grob decided to perform a low altitude aerobatic maneuver to reestablish himself on base after being warned he was cutting off another plane on final.

    @ Rankin Whittington

    From what I can tell instructors that teach their students to fly insanely wide patterns are trying to milk their students. I see it constantly at our local airport with students from one school (and exactly one particular instructor there). I flew with him once to give him a checkout and he flew the slowest final I’ve ever seen in an Arrow I, and extended the gear on 6 mile final. It was all I could do to not scream.

  44. Susan Simmons Says:

    Thank you for speaking up. You were morally correct on both counts.

    Now why don’t you continue being morally responsible by reporting him to the FAA if you think he was being reckless? There is a regulation against being reckless, you know! After all, the life you save may be your own (or even mine).

  45. Mike Mahoney Says:

    Right call, both times. As far as form vs function of your call technique, it’s no biggie. Safety first. I used to be the lineboy/monitor of a unicom frequency at a fairly busy uncontrolled airport in the 70’s. When things looked like they were getting hairy the phraseology we used went like this. “a/c in the pattern at K***, BE ADVISED….” The message got out. The responsibility stays in the cockpit where it ought.
    Also, perusing the FAR 91.126 and AIM 4.3.3 and notating the unfortunate lack of a crosswind pattern entry. But there it is.

  46. Ken Miess Says:

    Bruce, I agree with the value and benefit of the first call that you made – I’m 50/50 on the second. CTAF after all is the traffic ADVISORY frequency. I wouldn’t want someone trying to TELL me what to do as was previously mentioned, but additional info from additional eyes is invaluable. After all, CRM includes people beyond the confines of the cockpit.

    To the people who complain about the “pattern police”, I understand. My pet peave regarding self appointed authorities lies elsewhere, but regardless the topic, there always seems to be someone who thinks his way is the only right way and anyone who does otherwise is irresponsible and needs to be brought down a notch. Stick to traffic ADVISORY and not ego.

    Regarding the pattern, definately a go-around would have been the appropriate course of action if the Cirrus was not previously aware of the Mooney out front. If he was aware and allowed himself to run up on the Mooney, then this is a different problem altogether.

    Both pilots should have done better at maintaining overall situational awareness. I fly at a small field that includes a nordo J3 Cub utilized for tailwheel training, gliders, four seaters, and King Airs. The communication is top notch. The pilots call out their own positions and the locations of the Cub and gliders to one another as they do their bumps and circuits to make sure that everyone has a complete picture. The Cub is extremely slow, the gliders drop in with very little pattern, and the runway may not always clear right away. Reporting is important, but LISTENING is critical. We all have to fly the pattern as a group in concert, not with an attitude of “out of my way because I’m PIC and I’m doing whatever I gosh darn feel like”.

    Regarding the published procedures, I feel that the AIM is not so precise specifically because we are all (or should be) professional, intelligent, and capable pilots who learn to take responsibility for our safety and that of those around us. You can’t and shouldn’t legislate every little thing. We will encounter difficulties and challenges in flying everyday. We deal with it. Hey, pilot’s are the highest form of life!

  47. Steve G Says:

    I used to fly at an airport where we had a “Pattern Policeman”. He would growl at anyone he considered was not doing the right thing. I don’t think he ever averted a collision, he was just regarded as a somewhat sad joke.
    I highly doubt that a collisision would have occurred if Landsberg had not been there to issue his pearls of wisdom. I wasn’t there so maybe, but he is not at thousands of airports every day and we seem to get on pretty well without him.
    Yes of course, if there is an “Imminent” risk of collision, someone needs to say something, but all too often, particularly with these famous names or local celebrities, it is a desire to exercise control rather than a necessity for safety that drives the comment.
    I don’t know Landsberg nor what motivates him, but I do wonder, first why he did it, and second, why he had to write about it to tell everyone what a great guy he is.
    Maybe he reads these replies and would care to come back and comment. He has not returned since his original post.

  48. Chip C Says:

    Steve G Says:
    December 2nd, 2009 at 11:30 pm
    I used to fly at an airport where we had a “Pattern Policeman”. He would growl at anyone he considered was not doing the right thing. I don’t think he ever averted a collision, he was just regarded as a somewhat sad joke.
    I highly doubt that a collisision would have occurred if Landsberg had not been there to issue his pearls of wisdom. I wasn’t there so maybe, but he is not at thousands of airports every day and we seem to get on pretty well without him.
    Yes of course, if there is an “Imminent” risk of collision, someone needs to say something, but all too often, particularly with these famous names or local celebrities, it is a desire to exercise control rather than a necessity for safety that drives the comment.
    I don’t know Landsberg nor what motivates him, but I do wonder, first why he did it, and second, why he had to write about it to tell everyone what a great guy he is.
    Maybe he reads these replies and would care to come back and comment. He has not returned since his original post.

    I would simply point out that the “pattern police” making judgement calls about aircraft flying in the pattern is not to be tolerated. On the other hand, if someone in the pattern is maneuvering in obvious violation of fars, aim etc., and is putting others at risk, then they should be called on it. You may not always be in a position to note N numbers, but maybe someone else on frequency is. And you never know who might be visiting the local FBO and listening up on frequency and ready to take action on a “careless and reckless” violation. If you are flying IAW, then you really have no need to worry about the “pattern police” do you because they won’t be talking to you?

  49. Mark B Says:

    All other comments aside, and not attributing blame to either pilot or to Bruce, I dont consider executing a closed pattern in the “opposite” direction such a bad idea in this case. Consider the Cirrus pilot might have been confused about the traffic call from Bruce. Executing a closed or missed into the published downwind, with your SA in the mapcase might not have been such a good idea. Executing a missed or low or closed pattern to the non published side where you would hopefully NOT encounter traffic might just have been the BEST decision that pilot made. Please do not fly patterns or even your airplane by rote procedures and FARs and AIM guidance at all times. Fly your airplane in such a way that you can land and walk away safely. I would rather explain my deviation later then follow the “rules” and put safety second. I think the opposite direction pattern may just have been the best choice.

  50. Scott Clark Says:

    “Coaching” pilots on the radio at a non-towered airport while in flight is more of a distraction than helpful. If traffic was as busy as it sounds its probable that part of any of the transmissions could be blocked thus causing chaos. What if there were 2 Cirrus or Mooney’s in the pattern. Would we have have a Cirrus circus maximus going on? (sorry). It might be more productive to “coach” the pilot(s) involved to see the potential for “loss of separation” on the ground over coffee in the FBO office. As an FAA Safety Team rep I try to get the pilots thinking about “better” choices. Once the pilot feels threatened or the ego is attacked or “bruised” the learning stops and the defense shields go up. Is that the best outcome? Every CFI knows that’s not the way to teach and it sounds like a good teaching moment. An alternative approach might me to casually start a discussion with either of the pilots, quietly, and see how it looked from their side and offer alternative procedures or better choices thus enhancing better Aeronautical Decision Making. AOPA is a leader in developing better safe practices and teaching so this would be a more productive, realtime, application of those assets. So, until next time, if I don’t see you in the future, I’ll see you in the pasture. (sorry)

  51. John Green Says:


    As a brand new pilot (under 60 hours) I was put into a similar situation this past week. Here’s the set up…..I trained in a DA20 and was in the process of taking out the G1000 DA40 for the first time so that I could get more familiar with the it. After making my radio call and lifting off the runway I began a normal climb. Upon reaching 500 feet I glanced to might right only to see another single engine pulling a banner perpendicular to the runway. he couldn’t have been more than 300 ft off to my right at the same altitude. Knowing that one of the CFI’s and a student where on downwind straight at this guy I announced their tail number and gave the non-practiced, non-standard call of “plane pulling a banner at your 12’oclock”. They responded “we have the plane in sight but don’t see a banner”. The pilot committing what I now consider a mortal sin (flying across the threshold of a runway unannounced) responded “its 300 ft behind me”. Unacceptable behavior in my opinion even thought there is nothing illegal about it and he put several people in danger for no reason. Lastly…he didn’t have a transponder so the traffic systems on both planes didn’t pick him up. I tell this story because it taught me a valuable rule about cockpit management (eyes on the move) and to expect the unexpected even when you are taught that the rules are in place so everyone stays safe. All it takes is one knucklehead to mess up the day and I fully agree with the call you made that day. The cirrus had the option to take matters into his hands and I think he should have done what was expected by his fellow pilots in the pattern.

  52. Chuck Says:

    The call was the right thing, even with the desire not to intrude. Having the Cirrus intrude on the Mooney, much worse. I am glad to hear he was listening, but sad to see the trend of the B-52 Pattern lives on. I believe it is a sad fact with the number of take-offs and landings on a given day, close calls are going to be statistical fact. In the past 26 years I have had several and I consider myself careful. Always looking for the B1rd or pilot not paying attention. A couple years ago In Florida there were a couple mids, with Towers. Of course being predictable means preventable, I feel that will occur with the ADS-B becomes the norm. Until then, feel free to give me a shout out, to keep my metal Mooney from becoming composite infused…Don’t really have the useful load margin.

  53. Matthew Stansberry Says:


    Disaster or none, the situation was still unsafe and the Cirrus pilot should have followed right pattern traffic.

    As an AT-CTI student and student pilot, I would hope a more seasoned airman would make such an announcement to correct ANY potentially dangerous maneuver. We are taught to See and Avoid, and such an announcement is not only a learning tool, but a reminder to all that WE are responsible for the continued safety and promotion of General Aviation.

    God Bless,

    Matthew Stansberry

  54. Andy Says:

    I read a lot of the comments and there seems to be a relatively common theme. I’ll offer my own opinion for what it’s worth. I find it hard to believe that I would not speak on the radio if I saw what I believed to be an immediately impending collision. However, if two pilots in the pattern were about to exchange positions because they were not paying attention to one another, or were on the incorrect frequency, or for any other reason, I do not feel it is my place to complicate the situation. As a matter of fact, I would have been annoyed if I was one of the pilots in the air. We are all equal and responsible for fitting safely into the flow of traffic. The 360 pilot announced his diversion from standard pattern (for better or worse) and was heard by the other traffic and is now a factor to be considered by everyone else in the area (whether they heard his announcement or not actually). This does not mean that I wouldn’t be extremely annoyed if I was the oncoming base traffic and felt like some of my maneuvering options were taken away by this 360. But it is for the pilots to deal with. To me, a quick heads-up from the ground is one thing. Anything more was adding to a potential problem.

  55. John O'Neill Says:

    When I took my CFI ride at the Orlando FSDO we flew over to Kissimee. At KISM when on downwind if you are not flying a VERY tight pattern somebody absolutely will fly inside of you and speed up to turn base inside of you. Pilots are like people anywhere else: they get mad in traffic! They take on the attitude of willfull teenagers and rebel against the system.
    I must admit that when I was still in the solo stage of my training whem flying at a towered airport, Melborne, FL I was cleaed to land while on downwind and when turning base to final I saw a Mooney pass right underneath me (I mean a lot less than 100 feet) on final. The controller was in training and had forgot about the Mooney on a long final approach and never mentioned the traffic. Well after the threat had come and gone the controller issued instructions for me to go around but by then I was already “seeing and avoiding”.

    Your comments on the radio directed at a specific aircraft were not appropriate.
    A general call to all traffic about the conditions you were seeing would be appropriate.

    There will always be jerks in the pattern but your perspective from the ground is not the same as the one in the air.

    When we see a jerk doing his or her thing then we should let everybody know whats going on and the pilots can then do what they will with the information.

    The Cirrus pilot did at least announce his intentions: that’s actually much more than I expect from some of the idiots I fly with on a regular basis.

    As a professional pilot I am biased against some of the cowboy attitudes I encounter but I respect their right to fly. On the other hand, I have seen some of the best flying I have ever seen performed by dedicated and skillfull private pilots.

    See and avoid. Expect the worst. Be glad when nothing tragic happens.

  56. Tony I Says:

    It’s strange to me that people are wary of non-towered airports. I for one am glad that a significant amount of my initial training was conducted out of a very busy non-towered airfield (S43). It instilled in me good techniques that have transferred over to every other airport I’ve been to including towered airports. It develops better traffic scanning techniques, better listening skills, and better situational awareness.

    Bruce was right to make the initial traffic warning, I’ve done that before, and no one (at least no one rational) should get upset at a legitimate imminent safety warning. The follow-up lesson though should be saved for the ground as it does congest the frequency and sets up a more adversarial attitude in the other pilot who may be more inclined to do things their own way.

    That one about the Pilatus overtaking the guy on final gets me mad though. My first question to them would have been “What was your emergency?” Then depending on his answer I’d call the FAA. That’s just unsafe and uncool.

  57. Charles Plumery Says:

    You were correct to interject your observations intending to avoid chaos, something needed in the air as well as the ground. It amazes me how we are becoming a species of uncaring impolite beings even in the air with no regard for our fellolw pilots let alone ourselves and the people below. Is it any wonder that the cretins in Congress will take any opportunity to restrict free flight when we as a select group act as foolish as the common drivers on the road leading to incidents where incidents need not be. Perhaps one suggestion might be to make radio calls slowly and distinctly given the wide disparity in radio equipment installed in the fleet.

  58. Rick Tomalewicz Says:

    I feel the first call to advise of the conflict on final correct. If everyone in the patten had been paying attention, that should have been a heads up that things are changing in the traffic flow, and everyone at that point should have been watching, and adjusting. The second call from the ground, may have been helpful, but may have lead to blocking a transmission from the conflicting airplanes intentions, and jeapordized other aircraft in the pattern. For example “Cirrus XX making left 360 for final”,followed by a call from a Cessna “Cirrus XX be aware Cessna XX now on base turning short final”. It’s a hard call to make. Unfortionatley what happens in the real world, is a lot of pilots are more concerned with what is going on in thier aircraft rather then keeping a heads up stituation awarness, for possibe conflicting VFR traffic in the pattern. I have flown with newly minted pilots that are so fixated on watching the airspeed indicator that they would never know they were over taking, or cutting off traffic in the pattern. I’ve flown with zillion hour pilots as well, with other cockpit distractions, using CTAF as thier own personal party line, and hot shoting manuevers knowing there are students in the pattern. What are the chances all pilots are aware that a Pitts will most likely use a carrier type approach (modified base leg) to see the runway to a short final, or a G5 needs that longer final to slow down (not even entering the pattern from downwind to base). If you hear a call from either entering traffic we need to be aware of adjustments in the pattern.

    I live inside the traffic pattern of a noncontrolled airport with mixed traffic University flight operations, and everything from, Champs (no radios) to Jets (flying IFR appraoches). I can sit on my patio and watch pilots, entering down wind from all which ways and altitudes (some low enough to check for tire wear), over taking other aircraft, extending downwind into dangersouse areas of obsticals (towers), extending base legs over restricited or published areas to avoid, landing on closed portions of runways under construction or repair…… One of the cardnial rules I was taught is that a PIC should know all procedures, and hazards for thier destination airport, even if that destination is shooting T&G’s at your hame base. NOTAMS, Airport Advisories, proper radio proceedures, are all key to knowing how many aircraft you are sharing the pattern with. Did the Mooney pilot know the Cirrus was there, or how many other aircraft were in the pattern a head or behind. Maybe the pilot did and just made a bad move, or let arrogance get in the way, of good VFR pattern practice. Did the Cirrus pilot, hear the call for base to final, if it was ever made. I am sorry I went off topic here, but I am beginning to see a pattern of road rage in the pattern, and the equvilant of texting while flying, when we all should be focused on situation awarness, while approaching a field to enter the pattern. I confess I’m no angel and have enterned a proper donwind on more then one occassion, but still managing to get a little close to aircrfat in the pattern on downwind from crosswind doing T&G’s. I probably caused the staining of more then one, solo student pilots undies. all because I was more fixated on the traffic ahead of me in the pattern, and neglecting conflicting traffic behind, or approaching from the my side. I guess the bottom line is not if the call of conflicting traffic was correct or not, but we all have a responsibility to maintain a steril cockpit enviroment, and situation awarness while operating in shared confinded airspace, with mixed traffic and aircraft. That’s the root cause.

    Once again I aplogize for going off topic, and lets all remeber we are only a landing away from becoming that trukey.

  59. Mary Says:

    I applaud the call to the Cirrus. I land quite often at non-towered airports, I fly a dark blue 152 that’s hard to see against timbered terrain at pattern altitudes (even with strobes on) and I have learned the hard way to specifically address traffic if they don’t seem to be hearing my announcement or really paying attention to where I am. (RV turning base, I’m turning base to final at 500 feet). If you see a problem say something! Beats witnessing the collision.

  60. Ron Says:

    I agree with most of the posters here. Bruce, you definitely did the right thing by calling out what you saw on the radio. At a busy nontowered airport, sometimes any help at all helps to save the day. I recall a few months ago I was flying with a friend of mine to a very busy nontowered GA airport in my area. She was PIC, I was there basically just for moral support as it had been a while since she had last flown. As we entered the pattern, and made our callouts and turned final, a C172 came out of nowhere and cut us off on short final. The C172 made no radio call – s/he just turned to the final approach course right in front of us. I told my friend to go around, since there was no way the C172 would clear the runway in time for us to land. Just then, instead of landing, and again making no radio call, the C172 initiated a go around too!! This particular runway was left traffic so we sidestepped to the right to keep the C172 in sight and I was making radio calls constantly so that everyone else in the pattern and maybe the pilot of the C172 would also hear what we were doing. Just then a premier IA jet started their takeoff roll and announced that they were going to depart to the right (!), even though it was a left traffic runway and even though I had announced about a billion times that we were deviating to the right as a result of the snafu with the C172. All we could do was just go straight ahead; turning left would’ve resulted in a collision with the 172, turning right would’ve put us on a collision course with the departing Premier IA…It just seemed to me that no one was listening to what was going on in the traffic pattern and doing what they wanted. One of the most stressful times I’ve ever had flying.

  61. Chooch Says:

    Many thoughtful responses. None appear to capture how the pilots might have reacted to the transmissions. Was the Cirrus pilot on final glad to have been alerted to the impending collision? Was the Mooney pilot on final glad that someone alerted the Cirrus pilot of the conflict?

    Further, were the pilots of aircraft in the pattern appeciative to know that the Cirrus was breaking off the approach and intending to do a left 360 to re-enter on a left base? It seems to me that the transmissions were much like those we’d expect from a vigilent tower controller. In lieu of such, I’m totally in favor of observant pilots filling the void at uncontrolled airfields.

    My experience on CTAF at uncontrolled airfields is usually either silence or a cacophony of useless banter. My procedure is to enter and follow the pattern as described in the AIM, comply with the recommended announcements of position within the pattern on CTAF, assume that there are multiple aircraft near by and that they don’t hear CTAF transmissions or care, and futher assume the worst possible transgressions will occur. Sounds like driving to the mall?

  62. Kevin Says:

    We all have our share of stories of poor behavior in the traffic pattern that increases the risk of potential accidents, and it seems that multiple ‘errors’ occurred in this example as well. I am a Cirrus pilot based at an uncontrolled airport so I will opine that the Cirrus pilot in this example racked up the most errors with the biggest being the left 360 turn when the go-around (as we are trained) is the best choice in a situation such as this – bad decision. Let’s not forget the Mooney turning base inside the Cirrus may have been a contributor that set up the incident and perhaps the Cessna pilot would have been wise to break off his pattern with a downwind departure after hearing multiple calls that indicated compressed traffic on base/final, and potentially a Cirrus on a left base when he turned right base. So do we single out the Cirrus pilot (deservedly) or consider the chain of errors by multiple pilots that may have ended in disaster?

    The issue here is pilot training – not the type of pilots in certain aircraft as some have commented in their responses. Errors will occur in the pattern. It is up to all of us to maintain situational awareness in the traffic pattern, to report positions and listen, and for those of us with extra equipment and electronic displays in their our cockpit to stop looking at the equipment and look outside the plane when in the traffic pattern. And most importantly, we have to be ready to make decisions when things go wrong in the pattern and not just continue flying in the pattern and hope it works out.

    Regarding the second radio call to intervene – it is tough to second guess. My view is that the CTAF for an uncontrolled airport is to report facts, not unsolicited opinions/advice from other pilots in the pattern or on the ground. The PIC in each aircraft must ultimately sort through the facts and make appropriate decisions. We are not air traffic controllers and our well-intentioned interventions can hurt as much as help. It would seem the second call was unnecessary as the Cirrus correctly reported what he was doing, and the Cessna turning right base presumably reported what he was doing, your second call from the ground did not add any new information.

    Having a constructive conversation on the ground to share an observation of the incident is warranted and we all need to step up and do this more often if we see a transgression like this.

  63. Paul Draper Says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I feel you did the right thing, air safety is everyones business, when you help in the air what could be more timely!

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, I’ve enjoted everyone of your presentations, much continued success.

  64. Ferdinand "Ferdi" Badescu Says:

    2.5 – Bruce, after reading ALL the previous comments and re-reading your story for the 10th. time, my conclusion is that I would have done exactly what you did. Warning the pilots in the traffic was the right thing to do in order to avoid a disaster. It may sound like “coaching”, but one’s bruised ego is far better than the loss of life resulting from a midair colission. Last year, at Corona Airpt (AJO), in California there was a midair collision (NTSB #’s LAX08FA049A and B) that killed not only the people in the two planes, but also a couple of people on the ground in a shopping center. If those people would have had the benefit of a warning, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.

    You would think people have the wisdom to learn from others’ mistakes, but… Merely three months after the accident, at the same airport, I was in full takeoff roll after properly announcing myself on CTAF, when all of a sudden I see this low-wing plane coming at us head-on. Just like your Cirrus driver, (s)he was trying to land on the runway opposite to the one used that day, going against the traffic. (And, did I mention there was no announcement of his/her intentions on the CTAF?) I pulled instantaneously the throttle and braked as hard as I safely could preparing to exit the runway, while my friend (a CFII flying with me as safety pilot) went on the comm to let the other pilot know (s)he is going in the wrong direction. Fortunately, the other pilot -while not acknowledging itself on CTAF- pulled up before we would become another negative statistic. As an added benefit, were still on the ground. (Needless to say, my takeoff was aborted, and had to taxi back to active runway.)

    Now, this is what I would call “an honest to God mistake”: When you acknowledge it (even though you don’t respond) and take corrective action immediately. I concur with others who responded: the Cirrus driver was doing what was doing not because of ignorance, but because of sheer arrogance and lack of respect for others. For those who are sympathetic to the Cirrus driver’s arrogance, I have one recommendation: try to walk a mile in the shoes of those who lost their loved ones in the midair collision at Corona!

    Bruce, you did the right thing!

  65. Steve Kern Says:

    2. I concur with your transmissions in the interest of safety. The traffic pattern, it’s procedures for entering and leaving, were all designed for predictability and standard operations. While the Cirris did announce his intended left turn, it was not a manuever that would be considered standard for any traffic pattern. Just yesterday, I was doing pattern work at an non-towered airport and had to deal with a pilot who elected to enter the pattern on a base leg while I was on the downwind. My head was moving like windshield wipers to get a visual and I widened out my pattern a little since I didn’t see him until he turned final. He should have entered the patttern on a 45 degree entry to the downwind. I don’t see any provision in the description of a traffic pattern in the AIM (par 4-3-3) for a 360 degree turn in any direction anywhere in the pattern. I would suggest that more than a few pilots could use a little refresher on correct pattern procedures.

  66. Carl Wittfeld Says:

    If someone told me there was a Mooney on my tail, and I was on final & did not see him, I would most likely contact the person who told me and get out of the way. At least go around and take a look; asking for traffic ID in the vicinity or even leaving the pattern in a direction I knew was relatively clear. I can always land somewhere else and a little later if fuel is not critical. A TWA captain told me many moons ago that anyone could have his airspace anytime they wanted it. I agree with that. I would avoid any remote chance of a mid-air. Anyone can
    have a lapse of reason at any time, and can do something that is unsafe and unwise. To me, it should make all pilots more aware that an instant of unaware
    can take us out. Fortunately, there are pilots out there who do take it upon themselves to speak up and warn others in the pattern. I welcome those instances where someone else is watching, can see what I can’t and will warn me of a situation like that.

  67. james Says:

    Aviate. Navigate. Communicate. Funny… I can’t seem to find ‘lecture’. You communicated what you perceived to be a near midair. Hooray. You also keyed up to lecture someone who never signed up for your impromptu ground school. Boo. If you want to key up a radio transmitter to lecture people, get a ham license.

  68. Lance De Foa Says:

    A few posted comments on how the pattern dimensions are not precisely defined in the regs.

    For my PPL, I was taught to turn base when at 45 degrees from the threshold, flying a downwind where the runway is half way up the strut. In a C172 that means a steep full flap approach. Then, while training for my night rating (5 hours night + 5 more hours instrument) I learned to turn base when I saw the VASIS/PAPI turn from white to red. After I completed my instrument rating, and saw how some descents from IAF to FAF are gentle and others are steep, I got intrigued by approach design, and learned this fact:

    It turns out that for a standard 50′ threshold crossing height, with a standard 3 degree approach slope (as used on most ILS glideslopes & most VASIS/PAPI glidpaths), circuit height intercepts the glideslope/path at about 4 NM from the threshold (right where you might just find an NDB!).

    Maybe you were taught to descend 500′ on base so to turn base to final at 500′ AGL, which one would then expect to find on a 3 degree glidepath at about 2 NM from the threshold. That same slope would require the downwind to be offset from the runway by 2 NM, which sounds like quite a bit to me.

    A one mile downwind offset lets one descend on a 3 degree slope from 1000′ AGL to 750′ AGL for turning final at 3 SM from threshold. Good for a stable “power on,” warm engine for the “missed,” approach. Of course, those flying “power off” approaches will want to turn base closer to the threshold.

    So then, for a 1 mile runway, one could expect a “standard” uncontrolled aiport circuit to be 7 miles long by 1 mile offset. That should work for drivers of hot IFR aircraft made by Mooney, Cirrus & Pilatus. Those flying “power off” approaches will find them selves turning base “inside” the hot birds’ base legs – and so begins the conflict!

    As for the radio calls: First call to alert the of the conflict, no question it was the right thing. Second call – ok again to alert of a potential conflict from converging right & left base traffic. If you had said “you should have gone around rather than the left 360″ that would have been overstepping the bounds.

  69. Paul Miller Says:

    You are right to call him out;who wouldn’t want to be alerted to prevent a disaster? Secondly,though..a 360 in the pattern? A go around and re-entering the pattern costs how much? He’s lucky there wasn’t a license-taking authority in the pattern. Or was there?

  70. Mark Wood Says:

    Interesting dialog. I have to agree that the call to point the traffic conflict was a good decision. The second call is probably not necessary. Kind of interesting all of time spent pointing out 91.126 that all turns be left turns unless otherwise indicated by appropriate marking. I would find it impossible to comply with that in normal operations as you have to make a right turn from the 45 in order to enter a left downwind so the FARs do have some flaws but there is always the intent and that points the normal turns in the traffic pattern ie downwind to base, base to final… This is for operations in Class G airspace. In class E where IFR operations are likely the rules aren’t as clear cut. Here we run into what and how does a pilot conduct circling approaches especially from an off runway heading approach like a GPS A or VOR A. In this ATC or other procedures may dictate operations different than 91.126 which remains in effect. Reviewing the AIM most of the “normal” operations are recommended procedures and not mandatory and include the overhead initial approach procedures. No wonder it is easy to be confused on how to operate in an airport environment.

    So who was wrong in this situation? I have no idea but it seems there were a few errors. Seems the TIS wasn’t working in the Cirrus or it would have been annoying the pilot with it’s “TRAFFIC” “TRAFFIC” alerts. Maybe he was too busy wondering what that was about to sort out the Mooney ahead. Pet peave of mine as an instructor is to ask my student where the traffic is and have him point to the screen and say right there without ever looking up OMG…!! Okay how about the guy in the Mooney? Did he cut the Cirrus off? Was it intentional or was it because it’s just plane old difficult to see out through that little bitty windshield? It seems he turned inside of the B52 pattern flying Cirrus. I’ve spent lots of hours in the pattern with foreign students and their traffic patterns are different and larger than ours and trust me, following an Oxford B52 pattern Seneca around the pattern in a Champ can be taxing.

    The only real thing with the flying that went wrong was the Cirrus pilots decision to use the 360 on final. This is specifically addressed in the AIM as a disruptive maneuver but that is in terms of ATC. It was a bad call and it’s hard to know why he decided to do it. It probably deserves some one on one refresher training or initial training on the subject. Going around may have been a better alternative or maybe S turns or who knows. Bottom line is it worked, however poorly and he probably learned from it.

    It was probably a little over the edge to take on the roll of ATC and start giving further advisories once the initial alert had taken place. We truly can’t know what was going on within the Cirrus cockpit after the shake up from the first event. We tend to get really worked up on the radio sometimes and as it was pointed out, CTAF is not the place to have these discussions. Stuff like this happens and opening a big dissertation on CTAF about it and arguing inhibits other participation from other aircraft.

    That’s my $.02

  71. jason sparks Says:

    Keep offering the advisories! The effort is appreciated! If you had not made the
    advisory and something went wong, you would later wonder if you could have helped to save someone’s life. At least you can consider yourself proactive instead of one of those witnesses that just watch.

  72. Robert Boyle Says:

    The action taken to prevent a possible mid-air in my opinion was “spot on” and I’d do the same thing. A mid-air collision in Ohio approximately 3 years ago took the lives of 3 good pilots that just did not see each other.

    One thing that I have observed over the past few years is when I have witnessed things like you spoke of and prevented, it always seems to have the backwards tail attached in some way. I have seen a Mooney cut the runway at an intersection half way to take off ahead of one already on the numbers but not moving and I have been cut off on downwind ay mid field by Mooney who told me on the ground he was short on fuel (did not declare in the air though). Go figure !!

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