I'm trying to get my head around this, For eg- Joining Downwind, how to identify the Downwind leg in a new airfield ? During my pre-flight planning time, I could spend time using Skydemon and google maps etc to identify landmarks where the Downwind starts and I could fly to that location.
Whilst there is a Standard Overhead Join, there will be variations of it for different airfields so you cant really assume they will all be the same and you will be expected to have worked it out for that airfield during pre-flight briefing.
If the airfield is in the AIP, the details should all be in there. Flight guides, nav apps and the airfield website can all be consulted and compared (they might not always agree).
(If unsure, ask the destination airfield and they will explain their local rules and noise abatement and they can also keep a better eye on you as you arrive.
Note other visiting pilots/instructors and based pilots can get it wrong so be careful who you ask.
So, if you can do an Overhead Join for airfield X, how do you find the downwind leg for that circuit? Also an Overhead Join for somewhere non-standard?
If you can work that out, you know which point to aim for at the start of the downwind track at circuit height to do a downwind join. How to get to that point for a downwind join could vary. It might simply be arrive at that point at circuit height already on the same heading that you need to fly downwind, or you may need to adjust it for noise abatement if there is some house/farm/village/town etc they dont want you to fly over.
Similarly for a base join: If you had done an overhead join you will have worked out how to get from downwind onto base leg. So to do a base join it might simply be arrive at that point at circuit height already on the same heading that you need to fly the base leg of the normal circuit, or you may need to adjust it for noise abatement.
If there is other traffic in the circuit think carefully before jumping in with a downwind/base/final join. They wont be very happy if you make them do a go-around with your 'queue jumping'! You will be on the receiving end of that one day! (Not sure if it is more annoying if the joining traffic cut up the only aircraft in the circuit, or if the joining traffic made an aircraft go around in a very busy circuit resulting in more than one go around for one or more aircraft).
Saisworld wrote:However, there is a possibility of Runway getting changed and the downwind will be in a totally different location. Or what if I had to do a diversion and land at an airfield that I didn't plan to land and they ask me to join Downwind or base leg? Is there an easy way to identify the legs and join them ?
During pre-flight planning you should think through what you would do at that airfield if they change runway.
If it is single runway, it may be really obvious from the weather forecast that they wont be changing runway. If the wind is straight across, there is more of a chance of the active runway changing if aircraft start landing with tailwinds. I have been in a circuit with 3-4 other aircraft and the active runway was reversed. That was interesting!
Similarly if the airfield has multiple cross runways, the weather forecast gives a clue whether the active runway might change, and the airfield may switch if they have a preference for the longer runway or a hard runway rather than the grass runway, and noise abatement considerations.
I have been in a circuit with cross runways and the active runway has changed as the wind changed.
I have been in a circuit and the active runway became blocked by a landing aircraft with a burst tyre so a cross runway became the active runway (eventually).
For a bit more fun, there are airfields with cross runways and noise abatement procedures, and for busy events they might have two active runways - one for take off and one for landing.
Remember there can be non-radio aircraft in the circuit.
Remember that people make mistakes. Someone can go through a circuit in the opposite direction or for the wrong runway or at the wrong circuit height if they have got really confused so always keep a good look out inside/outside the circuit patterns.
For diversions, you really ought to have done the same pre-flight planning for the alternate airfields as for the destination.
Eventually it takes less planning as you get familiar with specific airfields you use more often. They do change their procedures sometimes.
As you gain experience it will become easier to adapt to changes of runway and faster/slower circuit traffic.