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Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:21 pm
by riverrock
If I was flying an instrument based approach or in an airliner or at night, I would have tools to help judge my descent such as PAPI or ILS which are going to guide me along a 3deg descent (there are exceptions with slightly steeper angles) along a long final.
If I'm not, I want to be flying a steeper descent, which needs judged by eye. Something that comes with experience.
In saying all that, I've very rarely done a straight in approach. When I have it is normally when doing a visual approach when wanting to test LOC / Glideslope instruments (so I'm going to use those to help and will be descending with the glideslope). The few times I have done a straight in approach, I just fly, without over thinking it, getting to be on the center line at circuit height, twice my normal distance from the runway threshold when turning final, before starting my normal descent.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:45 pm
by Hangar16
Communication is everything. I believe one of the problems with downwind and base joins, and direct final approaches, is that the chap who has joined overhead can perceive themselves as having been cut up if someone joins in front of them.

For this reason I will usually only join “non overhead” if there is no other traffic, or I can be absolutely certain I’m not jumping the queue.

Many’s the time my downwind has been lengthened by the long finalist approach.
Dan

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:51 pm
by leiafee
For myself I do joins onto specific legs as follows.

1) Keep at my cruise height well above circuit height until I have positively identified the runway. (Ocasionally this means buggering off further away and having another go if I am late in identifying it, or slow in mentally processing the orientation of it, or of its noise abatement issues if any)

2) If not already approaching conveniently thus that the target runway is on my left for a left hand circuit or my right for a righthand circuit, then waggle myself around the sky until it is. (Doing so outside the ATZ if there is one)

3) At that point I’ll be oriented correctly to be able to mentally overlay a picture onto the circuit and fly myself to the start of the appropriate leg with minimum drama, while descending to circuit height.

I don’t think I use anything other than eyeball acquired through practise for 3) - I used to regularly arrive closer or wider or higher than I wanted to (still do if I’m rusty, I find it one of the first things to show up lack of currency). That bit’s pure practise.

Sometimes on step 2) I deliberately plog to a waymarker nearby and probably within eyeshot but which positions me conveniently, rather than plogging to the overhead and working it out when I get there.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:46 am
by TopCat
Charles Hunt wrote:I don't think it does, surely joining traffic gives way to a/c already in the circuit.

Yes, I was perhaps a bit loose with the word "technically". However, the only wording of the rules I can find doesn't actually say 'give way to a/c in the circuit', it says 'conform with the traffic pattern', which is a bit more open to interpretation. If I've missed something more specific then I'd be glad to see it.

Aircraft landing or on final approach generally have right of way, I thought (has that rule been revoked?), and also, aircraft are supposed to conform to the circuit pattern. There's a potential conflict straight away.

Joining straight in isn't necessarily failing to conform to the circuit pattern, providing it doesn't cause havoc. Obviously joining straight in is a bad idea if there's someone on base, but what about if they're early downwind? Crosswind? Upwind? It depends how fast they're going, and how wide a circuit they're flying. What about someone that calls final at 2 miles, do they now have priority over someone flying a tight base and a glide approach whereas if it had been a normal (wider, longer downwind) circuit there would have been no conflict?

Mix in the difficulty of seeing other aircraft in the circuit, the tendency of people to call final when they're not quite yet (and even if they are, at various distances), the tendency of (some) pilots of fast twins to believe that their extra engine gives them additional priority, busy frequencies, AFISOs that think they're controllers, pilots that think AFISOs and A/GOs are controllers, and it can sometimes be a right PITA.

It's all very well publishing idealised diagrams of how a circuit should look, but in the real world it often doesn't work out like that. My preference is for an OHJ where available, followed by downwind or base, with a straight-in my last preference except where it's very quiet indeed. Joining overhead usually works really well at White Waltham where I'm based now, but often it was difficult, sometimes dangerous IMO, where I was based before. I'm only not naming the latter because it was a long time ago, and I haven't been there enough in recent years to know whether it's changed.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:43 am
by Charles Hunt
I hesitate to claim airmanship, but the surely the circuit is the circuit. If there are aircraft in the circuit then they take priority over someone on an x mile final. Surely that's why even on a/g on first contact you get told the runway in use and circuit direction.

In short the straight in should be used only where it doesn't interfere with other a/c. (A bit like when learning to drive half a century ago 'no manoeuvre should cause any other road user to change speed or direction.')

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:26 pm
by TopCat
Charles Hunt wrote:I hesitate to claim airmanship, but the surely the circuit is the circuit. If there are aircraft in the circuit then they take priority over someone on an x mile final. Surely that's why even on a/g on first contact you get told the runway in use and circuit direction.

Well no, you get told those so that you know which side of the airfield is the circuit, and which direction is currently being used for landings.

Although sometimes you might, usually you don't get any information about other aircraft joining or their positions in the circuit from A/G, and such information certainly shouldn't be relied upon. So the eyeball, and the situational awareness that comes from monitoring position calls is usually all you have to go on. This isn't always trivial.

In short the straight in should be used only where it doesn't interfere with other a/c. (A bit like when learning to drive half a century ago 'no manoeuvre should cause any other road user to change speed or direction.')

Of course. I doubt you'd find any that would disagree with this. However, what should happen isn't always what does happen.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sat Jan 09, 2021 8:15 pm
by skydriller
As posted elsewhere.... "Dont be an a$$hole" :wink:


Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:05 pm
by GAFlyer4Fun
Saisworld wrote:
GAFlyer4Fun wrote:....


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.


I started writing a response to this and it was getting quite wordy for a number of reasons so have had second thoughts for now, and offer this response instead:

As everyone is going out of currency due to covid lockdowns you will need to fly with an instructor anyway. I recommend you ask that instructor to teach you how to do all of the different types of joins and go and fly them together (which might need flying to an airfield that allows them).

This is the safest option for you and others.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sun Jan 10, 2021 12:15 am
by MidlandsPilot
One thing I've found very handy for joining and flying circuits (I learned at a commercial field where the Cessna circuit was very similar to the 737 circuit, mostly due to noise abatement... you could easily make and drink a cuppa on downwind if your aircraft was suitably equipped!) is to set the heading bug in the DI to the runway direction. A very quick visual reference for when you're on the crosswind or downwind heading (not accounting for wind obviously).

This tip does kinda fall down if your plane doesn't have an autopilot. Also, don't try and do it with the autopilot on, unless you're joining on a 18 mile final!

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sun Jan 10, 2021 7:03 am
by Charles Hunt
Loved SD's video, but FTAOD UK students should note that it is showing American practice of 'joining on the 45' which is not how it is done here.

Rightly or wrongly when joining downwind I aim to join on the extended line of the downwind leg outside of the ATZ. (To avoid having to make a right turn when a left hand circuit is in use (and vice versa). Report entering the Zone, and downwind call abeam the numbers.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:39 am
by David Wood
MidlandsPilot wrote:This tip does kinda fall down if your plane doesn't have an autopilot


You mean 'doesn't have a heading bug' I imagine. Autopilot has no place in the circuit.

Good tip though. Anything that helps you maintain situational awareness is a good thing, and the Heading Bug is useful in that regard if left on the runway heading.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:34 pm
by MidlandsPilot
Yep agreed. I never use autopilot in the circuit. I do find it particularly useful when visiting new airfields, or the home field is using an obscure runway for once.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:32 pm
by EuropeanFlyer2000
Saisworld wrote: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.


I'm sure it happens to us all at some time. The first time I ever did a straight in long final was on my skills test. The examiner said that my overhead join sounded lovely but there wasn't enough time to do it. I quickly scrambled about in my head thinking what to do and what happened turned out well. I just imagined where I would be when turning onto final from the pattern (i.e. altitude and location) and aim for the same and then just use that as your reference for flaps and speed etc.

It's certainly convenient if you are coming from that direction and saves several minutes. I can't say I felt comfortable doing it though. That's one of the reasons I haven't since and have no plans to. It was at a quiet airfield as well- I can't imagine doing it anywhere busy.

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:20 pm
by Rob P
EuropeanFlyer2000 wrote:It was at a quiet airfield as well- I can't imagine doing it anywhere busy.


Other than at my previous home base as was, where the circuit is so vast virtually everyone who can opts for a straight-in, the last one I can remember flying one at a busy field was Staverton (Gloucester). It was offered by the ATCO, possibly for my convenience as I was coming from the East for the westerly runway, or possibly because it suited him and his traffic management. It was very busy.

I would have been very embarrassed to turn it down.

At Turweston I generally opt for a straight-in. wind permitting. (Well, not completely straight)

Rob P

Re: Circuit joining - Downwind or Baseleg or Direct (final)

PostPosted:Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 pm
by PeteSpencer
When I fly into Duxford from our strip I usually ask for a straight in if 24 is in use as our strip is on a 24NM final to 24 and I don't have to touch the controls....................... :lol: ......

To clear this up, and for the avoidance of smart ar se pedantry, my R/T approaching Duxford 20 miles out, inbound on runway heading usually goes something like:

'Duxford info, G-XXXX inbound to land from the north east, on runway heading, 10 miles to run, any chance of a straight -in?'

To which 9 times out of 10 the reply is 'Runway in use 24, QFE xxxx, circuit is not busy, report 4 mile final' :roll: