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By George
#1263030
I was going to post this anonymously, but then your mates start asking "Was that you posting?" so decided to fess up and go public.

I won't name the place in this post though but those that know me on FB will have a good idea where it was.

So, I set off to an A/G airfield having phoned for PPR and taken a look at the Pooleys plate. When I called I was told it was Runway XX R/H by a chap (who said he wasn't the FISO but manning the office at the time). So I wrote that on my kneepad and from then on I had it in my head that the circuit was r/h on the runway in question and thought the approach through with that in mind (see later for why I made my mistake).

So on initial call up I was told the QFE and "runway in use XX" - I am convinced he never said the circuit direction then or at any other time to the other a/c in the circuit when I listened in extra carefully afterwards. So I joined on what I thought was the downwind leg and listening to the traffic couldn't work out why I couldn't see the guy who was in the circuit too. OK it's a/g, see and avoid, keep a good look out, etc and don't expect to get the full ATC service. He called Final as I joined base and at that point I saw him and did a dog leg to let him land. Told everyone I was extending then landed behind him. At the time I put it down to just one of those things at a radio only field. We hadn't come anywhere near an airprox. When I got back in the aircraft after that and got my airfield information again I was told "Runway in use XX" and I said "That's right hand?" and was then told "No, left hand."

The penny dropped. The circuit in use for helicopters only is right hand and all other traffic left hand. As the helicopter bit comes first in Pooleys I had skimmed through the rest of it and was seeing what I had expected to see from the guy who originally answered the phone.

But as I said I listened a lot to the FISO afterwards and I am convinced he never said the circuit direction to others, perhaps because he assumed we all knew?

Feel free to flame me (but not too much) as I think I still flew responsibly after the error and no puppies were harmed. However I will make sure to read the airfield info more thoroughly from now on and share this as an example where one could get caught out.
By riverrock
#1263042
Thanks for posting.
I've not been at many A/G fields, but I've always said my own circuit direction during my initial circuit join (so joining RH Download 23), which at least informs others and allows them to correct me. Is that common practice?
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By Keef
#1263052
I always work on "left hand unless told otherwise". I suspect if I misread the book and saw RH I'd do the same, but I'd call "downwind RH" so someone may pick me up on it.
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By TheKentishFledgling
#1263107
I once joined at Seething expecting the circuit direction to be one way (it always had been before, and in my mind I'd prepped for that), but it was the other. I even wrote down the correct direction on my scribble pad. It was only when actually calling downwind that I realised what I was doing, at the same moment as the other guy in the circuit (a regular poster here), and the guy on the radio. I felt a right plonker, but no one was harmed and I'd like to think it taught me never to assume anything in this game: complacency had kicked in, and I'd relaxed at what was nearly the end of a challenging-ish flight.

We all make screw ups - it's how we learn from them that's important (well, after surviving the mistake ;) ). I think this section of the forum is good for that.
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By George
#1263119
Keef - why always assume left rather than right? I can think of any number of airfields I have flown in to with r/h circuits with a westerly direction (Compton Abbas, Denham, White Waltham, Elstree, Bembridge just to name a few) or variable (Old Sarum and Bournemouth come to mind)... I missed the opportunity to ask and I should have done. I won't next time!
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By Keef
#1263121
George wrote:Keef - why always assume left rather than right?


When I was a lad, that was in the Air Law book I used, so I memorised it.
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By Gertie
#1263126
Keef wrote:
George wrote:Keef - why always assume left rather than right?


When I was a lad, that was in the Air Law book I used, so I memorised it.

Me too. Assume left unless right is specified.
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By Paul_Sengupta
#1263156
Yes, assume left unless told otherwise.

Which leads me on to...

I was flying in to an airfield in the US. It was a sort of disused commercial airport, all locked up, but still used as a GA airfield, but without much traffic at all and uncontrolled. The circuit was right hand for the particular runway I was heading for. I made my circuit calls as right hand all the way around. When I was on final, my pilot buddy in the right hand seat commented, "Do you realise you just flew a left hand circuit while calling right hand?"

:shock: :shifty: :D

Well they drive on the other side over there!
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By Charles Hunt
#1263393
Thanks for the honesty.

I believe it is written in stone 'LH unless otherwise advised"

On landaways I have (so far, I think) got it right, but then returning to Fairoaks was advised 06 LH and promptly tried to set up for 24 LH.

Like Paul, I do include circuit direction in my circuit calls.
By Anon
#1263491
George wrote:When I called I was told it was Runway XX R/H

snip...

The penny dropped. The circuit in use for helicopters only is right hand and all other traffic left hand. As the helicopter bit comes first in Pooleys I had skimmed through the rest of it and was seeing what I had expected to see from the guy who originally answered the phone.

But as I said I listened a lot to the FISO afterwards and I am convinced he never said the circuit direction to others, perhaps because he assumed we all knew?

Feel free to flame me (but not too much) as I think I still flew responsibly after the error and no puppies were harmed. However I will make sure to read the airfield info more thoroughly from now on and share this as an example where one could get caught out.


I take it you were not in a helicopter? Sounds like a very dangerous cock up on the part of the airfield staff - you could have ended up in trouble, but if someone tells you 'runway XX R/H' what else could you do but fly a RH circuit?
By greggj
#1264087
I'm told to always specify "RH" when the circuit is such in radio calls. Otherwise assume LH.
Even when I respond to ATC calls, and they don't mention RH, I do. Just so they know my intentions. Good airmanship and all that.
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By Full Metal Jackass
#1267217
Charles Hunt wrote:Thanks for the honesty.
On landaways I have (so far, I think) got it right, but then returning to Fairoaks was advised 06 LH and promptly tried to set up for 24 LH.


Glad I'm not the only one to have done that - ie, set up for the reciprocal runway.... :oops: