Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

#1818720
For me the starting point is having a picture in your head of what you are trying to do.

As others have said a quick call to your destination before you take off even if not needed for PPR will let you know the runway then in use. It might change, but at least you have a starting point.

For example flying in to Headcorn (which forbids overhead joins) the main runway is (IIRC) 09/27.

So if you know the runway in use is 27 left hand circuit (I still have to think about this!!) 27 is due West, so I need to approach the airfield from the west (heading east), with the runway on my left hand side.

Approach the airfield from the west, descend to circuit height report entering the ATZ, fly parallel to the runway with it comfortably on you left hand sight, report downwind when you are abeam the numbers, later make a 90 degree turn left (heading north) and you are on left base, make another 90 degree turn and you are heading West hopefully lined up for 27 and report final. Land, bounce, taxi to parking for tea and cake.

I may even jot down a tiny sketch of the airfield runways (oriented to north) and their numbers on my PLOG and a simple line to show my expected downwind crosswind and final legs.
Last edited by Charles Hunt on Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
David Wood, JAFO, cjrpaterson and 3 others liked this
#1818721
Charles Hunt wrote:Approach the airfield from the west, descend to circuit height report entering the ATZ, fly parallel to the runway with it comfortably on you left hand sight, report downwind when you are abeam the upwind end of the runway, make a 90 degree turn left...

Slight edit for clarification.
#1818722
Whichever way you do it, the two watch-words rattling about your mind must be Look-Out and Consideration for Others.

Circuit-joining will always be a relatively perilous part of the flight and you need to have your game-face on when you do it - however you do it. That means getting the pre-landing checks out of the way early, listening to the RT or ATIS if there is one, mentally orientating yourself to the runway(s) (and other features) so that by the time you come to actually enter the circuit you can fully concentrate on those two watch-words.

Just a word on joining on a Long Final approach. We all do it and it can often be a very convenient way to arrive, especially if your approach track coincides with the runway heading. But it is very irritating (and inconsiderate) to blithely announce that you are on the final approach whilst you still have three or four miles to run because you are then queue-jumping in the circuit and causing other traffic to break off and go around.
Rob P, JAFO, Saisworld and 1 others liked this
#1818725
As the OP is obviously familiar with SkyDemon ...

There's no harm in planning your circuit in advance on SkyDemon, rather than just having the magenta line end in the middle of the destination.

Here's a left-hand circuit downwind join for 21, the main at Tibenham.

Image

THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION THAT YOU SHOULD FLY THE CIRCUIT WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR TABLET

But it gives you the mental picture as you start your join, and if necessary the headings for each leg which will be on your SkyDemon PLog

Rob P
JAFO, Saisworld liked this
#1818750
low&slow wrote:So, if it's runway 27, left hand circuits, you're approaching from the north west and have agreed to join downwind you fly to somewhere just west of the airfield, outside the ATZ if there is one, before turning left and flying parallel and to the right of the extended centre line, calling downwind once abeam of the upwind threshold.
.


What do you mean by fly west of airfield outside the ATZ? Did you mean to fly like this as shown in below pic?

(This is for Runway 26)
Image
johnm, Rob P liked this
#1818756
GAFlyer4Fun wrote:

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.


Overhead joins process that I follow is like this - for a left hand circuit 26 - approaching from South in Piper warrior

1) Fly overhead number 26 ,
2) Descend on the deadside to the circuit height
3) fly over the number 08 (crosswind) towards downwind.
4) keep a good lookout for traffic from right,
5) keep flying (visually for the PIC from his seat) tail of the aircraft touches the runway ,this means we have reached downwind OR visual landmarks
6) Turn left, now the tip of the wing should touch the runway
7) Check for the 45 deg angle from wing to the Runway 26 , turn left.

How will I be able to goto Step-6, from above, directly if I join downwind without overhead join? I need to know either some landmarks on ground or some technique like above.
#1818759
Rob P wrote:As the OP is obviously familiar with SkyDemon ...

There's no harm in planning your circuit in advance on SkyDemon, rather than just having the magenta line end in the middle of the destination.



This makes perfect sense to me, atleast my PLOG will show the Track and set my DI accordingly.

Assuming I planned all this and If they change the Runway while I m on route, the options I have will be

1) Like others suggested, during pre-planning phase get used to all the runways and circuits and prepared for a change in Runway and get mental picture in mind.
2) If its possible change Skydemon to point to the new Runway while flying and get new coordinates.

This happened once for me and I got completely disoriented and I turned back and flew back to my home airfield during my first landaway. (Ofcourse I was not allowed to carry or use Skydemon then :( ).
#1818762
Saisworld wrote:
How will I be able to goto Step-6, from above, directly if I join downwind without overhead join? I need to know either some landmarks on ground or some technique like above.

It's frustrating at your stage when some grizzled oldie pops up and says "You will"

But ...

You will. :D

You soon become accustomed to judging it by eye, so on your Kemble example above. once onto the heading for the downwind leg you will make whatever adjustments are necessary such that once abeam the runway your wingtip is touching it, or whatever measure you use.

Rely on this, not ground features.

Rob P
Saisworld, JAFO liked this
#1818767
Saisworld wrote:Assuming I planned all this and If they change the Runway while I m on route


First, there are more important things to concern yourself with. In thirty years flying this has happened to me once or twice. (Edit: I just read that it has happened to you. That's truly bad luck. You chose to sort it out by scrubbing the whole thing and going back home - a perfectly sound decision.)

Second. A depressingly large number of venues have only one runway / strip. This means you only have the choice of two approaches anyway. In my Tibenham example the 03 circuit is also to the East of the field, to avoid irritating the nice chaps at Priory Farm. So your downwind leg will be in the same place. but heading in the opposite direction.

If on the other hand the circuit turn direction remains the same at the airfield you are headed for, you will know that the downwind will be the mirror opposite of the one you planned into your SkyDemon.

Don't fanny about with your tablet at this high-workload part of your flight, simply envisage where the downwind leg is - the one that doesn't have a magenta line. The numbers are easy because what you assumed would be your heading on final has become your downwind leg, and what you had planned as the heading on downwind is actually now your final.

Rob P
Last edited by Rob P on Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:47 am, edited 3 times in total.
#1818768
David Wood wrote:
Just a word on joining on a Long Final approach. We all do it and it can often be a very convenient way to arrive, especially if your approach track coincides with the runway heading.


How to fly a Long Final approach ? None of my instructors taught me to do this and I received my License yesterday. In a normal circuit, in Baseleg I start to descend and it automagically everything sets in the right path, right altitude, right attitude, right speed. In a Long final, when and where should I be at the circuit height, start descending, ?
If I descend too early, I have to use power to get back, If I didnt descend at the right time, I will be too high.
#1818770
Saisworld wrote:, If I didn't descend at the right time, I will be too high.


Ask your instructor to teach you side-slipping. It's an invaluable technique that is rarely covered in PPL training

Rob P
Saisworld liked this
#1818781
Saisworld wrote:
low&slow wrote:So, if it's runway 27, left hand circuits, you're approaching from the north west and have agreed to join downwind you fly to somewhere just west of the airfield, outside the ATZ if there is one, before turning left and flying parallel and to the right of the extended centre line, calling downwind once abeam of the upwind threshold.
.


What do you mean by fly west of airfield outside the ATZ? Did you mean to fly like this as shown in below pic?

Yes, that's what I would do.
#1818782
Saisworld wrote:
David Wood wrote:
Just a word on joining on a Long Final approach. We all do it and it can often be a very convenient way to arrive, especially if your approach track coincides with the runway heading.


How to fly a Long Final approach ?


Another good question.

Essentially you need to fly in order to position yourself on the Final Approach where you would have been and in the condition that you would have been in had you flown a circuit. That's the short answer.

The slightly longer answer is that there is quite a lot to do prior to getting there. And, as you say, it isn't always well taught (or taught at all)

My suggestion is that:
1/ You do all the pre-circuit joining stuff previously mentioned in good time, as normal.
2/ Having visually identified the airfield you descend to circuit height in good time and before you enter the ATZ (obviously with due regard to terrain avoidance if there is high ground around).
3/ Set up your descent (power, flaps, speed, ROD, gear etc) as if you had mentally 'straighted out' the base-to-finals bit of the circuit.
4/ You keep a very close eye on the downwind and base legs for existing circuit traffic.
5/ By all means call something like "G-ABCD positioning for long finals, runway 26" or something similar so that everyone knows what you are up to. But don't actually call finals until you would have done if you'd been in the circuit, ie at about 500' or so.

There is no black art to it but it is surprisingly easy to forget things like flaps and checks on a straight-in approach.
Saisworld, Rob P, JAFO liked this