There are three ways for pilots to communicate their intention and obtain airport/traffic information when operating at an airport that does not have an operating tower: Many airports are now providing completely automated weather, radio check capability and airport advisory information on an automated UNICOM system. How can you always get it right? Fly this outbound heading until you reach the outside limit of what you would consider to be a normal pattern. Safe? From what we just learned, 1,902′ MSL is not 1,000 AGL, so is 1,902′ MSL otherwise established? When I was a student, I learned the golden rule of standard traffic pattern entries: Always enter the downwind leg on a 45-degree angle and at pattern altitude. I don’t recommend flying below pattern altitude because it is there for a reason. Pilots should refer to similar information provided by the aircraft manufacturer when determining these wind components, Enter pattern in level flight, abeam midpoint of the runway, at pattern altitude (1,000' AGL is recommended pattern altitude unless established otherwise...), Try not to enter the pattern on base/final even if that is the quickest as it does not afford you a look at the runway until you're on final, Maintain pattern altitude until abeam approach end of the landing runway on downwind leg, Complete turn to final at least 1/4 mile from the runway, Continue straight ahead until beyond departure end of runway, If remaining in the traffic pattern, commence turn to crosswind leg beyond the departure end of the runway within 300' of pattern altitude, If departing the traffic pattern, continue straight out, or exit with a 45° turn (to the left when in a left-hand traffic pattern; to the right when in a right-hand traffic pattern) beyond the departure end of the runway, after reaching pattern altitude, Do not overshoot final or continue on a track, which will penetrate the final approach of the parallel runway, Do not continue on a track, which will penetrate the departure path of a parallel runway, Maintain approximately 1/2 a mile distance from the runway when on downwind, Distance from the airport can be referenced by landmarks or using runway lengths for perspective, When operating at an airport where traffic control is exercised by a tower, two-way communication is required, unless otherwise authorized, Initial callup should be made about 15 miles from the airport, Unless there is a good reason to leave the tower frequency before exiting the Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas, it is a good operating practice to remain on the tower frequency for the purpose of receiving traffic information, It is not necessary to request permission to leave the tower frequency once outside of Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas, as it reduces frequency congestion, When operating at uncontrolled fields, keep to normal towered procedures to remain predictable, Not all airports with an operating control tower will have Class D airspace and thus do not have weather reporting which is a requirement for surface based controlled airspace, previously known as a control zone, The controlled airspace over these airports will normally begin at 700' or 1,200' AGL (see, Pilots are expected to use good operating practices and communicate with the control tower, same as above, When necessary, the tower controller will issue clearances or other information for aircraft to generally follow the desired flight path (traffic patterns) when flying in Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas and the proper taxi routes when operating on the ground, Thus, if not otherwise authorized or directed by the tower, pilots of fixed-wing aircraft approaching to land must circle the airport to the left, Pilots approaching to land in a helicopter must avoid the flow of fixed-wing traffic, In all instances, an appropriate clearance must be received from the tower before landing, Many towers will have radar display which are intended to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the local control, or tower, position, They are not intended to provide radar services or benefits to pilots except as they may accrue through a more efficient tower operation, Accomplished by radar identifying the VFR aircraft through any of the techniques available to a radar position, such as having the aircraft, Once identified, the aircraft's position and spatial relationship to other aircraft can be quickly determined, and standard instructions regarding VFR operation in Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas will be issued, Once initial radar identification of a VFR aircraft has been established and the appropriate instructions have been issued, radar monitoring may be discontinued; the reason being that the local controller's primary means of surveillance in VFR conditions is visually scanning the airport and local area, Radar traffic advisories may be provided to the extent that the local controller is able to monitor the radar display, Local control has primary control responsibilities to the aircraft operating on the runways, which will normally supersede radar monitoring duties, The local controller may provide pilots flying VFR with generalized instructions which will facilitate operations; e.g., ", In both cases, the instructions are advisory aids to the pilot flying VFR and are not radar vectors which gives pilots complete discretion regarding acceptance of the suggestions as they have sole responsibility for seeing and avoiding other aircraft, In an example of this situation, the local controller would use the radar to advise a pilot on an extended downwind when to turn base leg, A few of the radar equipped towers are authorized to use the radar to ensure separation between aircraft in specific situations, while still others may function as limited radar approach controls, The various radar uses are strictly a function of FAA operational need.


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