My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

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drdehave
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My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby drdehave » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:32 pm

We’re all pattern cyclers at one time or another, either in our early training or as we periodically "brush up" on our landing and take-off skills.

I do a lot of circuit training myself-–although after two or three landings and take-offs at one airport, I like to move on for the fresh “look” presented by another airport. The problem I have with some who get into working the pattern at an airport is that they sometimes become rather robotic. And this can lead to a particular situation in which they significantly increase close, air-to-air encounters between airplanes.

Especially when air traffic is heavy, I often see this scenario unfold. I’m inbound for landing, 10 miles or more out, and start “reading the mail” on frequency. I see there's a pattern cycler, executing basically the same climbs, turns, and calls, around the circuit. When a pattern cycler is active, I try to up my game, increasing both the number and precision of calls I make along the 45. If the radio frequency is quiet enough, I may report multiple times before my turn to downwind.

Nevertheless, what seems to happen at least a third of the time, is this. I get to the 1- or 2-mile mark, just before turning downwind and the curcuit-worker turns to crosswind, from his favorite upwind spot, directly towards me! It always surprises me that an instructor hasn’t instilled in her (or him) that simply extending upwind a bit is not only a courteous thing to do, but a smart one to improve safety through better spacing.

Formerly, whenever this happened, I tended to sometimes reach for the PTT button to relay such wisdom to the cycler (although I never actually said so.) These days, when someone makes a dangerous turn towards me with inadequate spacing, I immediately announce and make a 360-degree turn, with reentry into the pattern, safely behind her–-always ending with the words, “for better spacing.” That seems to get the message across. And I always feel much better knowing that someone with her experience and judgement will be in front of me, where I’ll be the “keeper” or our fate–-not behind (or to the side, or above) me, where she has our lives in hand.

Anyway, that’s my #1 pet peeve around non-towered airports. I’ve thought of saying it for a long time. And yes, I may be more sensitive to it than most, because I watched two pilots die right in front of me in a mid-air collision in the pattern 2 years ago in Nevada.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic-–and any pet peeves you have regarding non-towered airport operations.
Last edited by drdehave on Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby foresterpoole » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:19 pm

Well, since I'm a student I'm a pattern robot by necessity more than choice. I can tell you that if there is an aircraft on a long final I will delay the downwind or the crosswind turn for spacing and stay in contact with other traffic. The airport I fly out of also has a fairly large FBO and the mechanics fly pattern work for diagnosis and or testing. It's not uncommon for two students, a mechanic and sometimes another aircraft to be working the pattern. I think the biggest pet peeve of mine is the experimental crowd in their gyros or their ultra lights without radios. Yes I know it's perfectly legal, see and avoid, but man they can be hard to see and some of these jokers don't fly standard patterns at all. Who I feel sorry for was the Cirrus that got stuck behind me the last time. I was turning base and he was entering the downwind. I bet I aggravated the hell out of him flying final at a whopping 60 knots indicated. I took the first taxiway and called clear of active as fast as I could....
Ed

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby Wm.Ince » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:33 pm

"Pattern bots," a new progressive, liberal term.
When will it ever end?
Bill Ince
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MrMorden
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby MrMorden » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:15 pm

I do a lot of landing practice at my home airport. Landing is the highest-risk maneuver that a pilot has to accomplish on *every* flight, and thus should be the most oft-practiced. I usually start every local flight with 2-3 circuits to knock the cobwebs out, and often do a couple on returning as well. If that makes me a "robot", well so be it.

You know, it's the duty of traffic entering the pattern to do so in a way that accommodates the traffic established in the pattern, not the other way around. If others are going around the pattern "like clockwork", it should be easy to avoid conflicts. How about doing a 360 to create room entering the pattern, instead of blundering on in and expecting everybody else to make way for your highness? After all, your precious "gems of wisdom" are sometimes lost on us common folk.

Sorry for the tone, but your original post is a little, well...insulting. My pet peeve? Pilots who think it's everybody else's job to get out of their way.
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drdehave
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby drdehave » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:33 pm

Yes, obviously that's always the best & first line of defense--hanging out beyond the 45 entry, waiting for the right moment to cycle in to traffic and avoid the potential situation altogether. But on some busy days that's not very practical.

I wasn't aware of coming across so uppity. Thanks (over half of you) for pointing that out. I'm sorry & will re-think this and do some remedial wordsmithery. (Interesting...the title only changes on the original post, not the responses which follow. But "bots" & some other inflammatory needles went away!)
Last edited by drdehave on Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby CharlieTango » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:18 pm

I get to the 1- or 2-mile mark, just before turning downwind and the bot turns to crosswind, from his favorite upwind spot, directly towards me!



For me this is not a problem. I'm on a 45 headed for abeam mid-field to turn downwind and the crosswind traffic is aimed for the position that I am leaving. I don't think that's a problem. Assuming typical pattern width and typical speeds she should be behind you with a good view in case she does need to provide spacing.

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby Warmi » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:30 pm

Well, I do patterns at D class airport and thus I am learning to extend both downwinds and departures (when someone joins the pattern )courtesy of our friendly tower operators but yeah, normally, that should be job for the instructor.

BTW... I am not far off from my first solo ( hopefully ) and my interest in aviation was re-ignited by watching your excellent "Yolo County traffic" videos :D
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby Chemguy » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:56 pm

I don't get to fly much these days but, when I do, it's around and around the pattern we go. Jumping over to the neighboring Class D does add some additional civility if you're stuck with the weekend warriors.

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Robots Who...

Postby Wm.Ince » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:51 pm

eyeflygps wrote:
Wm.Ince wrote:"Pattern bots," a new progressive, liberal term.
When will it ever end?
This is my biggest pet peeve.

If that's the case, then you are really in good shape. :D
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby 914Driver » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:10 am

I did a lot of pattern tows in a Glider my second summer of training. Try your pet peeve with no engine at an airport that handles mostly light GA traffic, but when the race track is open, we get G5 type jets.

No go arounds, no second chances; it's part of the learning process and good practice.


Dan

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby CharlieTango » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:12 pm

My pet peeve is quite different. Our pattern is 8,000' and most traffic enters downwind at 12,000' at who knows what distance.

Last flight I was on a 2 mile left base for Runway 09 at Mammoth Yosemite Airport and a Gulfstream calls 'Yosemite' traffic and states he is on downwind for Runway 19.

I respond by asking which airport and runway he was using (there are 3 'Yosemite' airports) and it became runway 19 at Mammoth. I saw what I though was him a mile above doing at least 200 knots. I said that I was on 2 mile left base for niner and asked if that would work out for him and he said that he didn't know and that he was pretty big.

Okey dokey, I called back that I was departing the pattern to the north and it was all his. I watched him turn base about and set up a 10 mile final. I followed him in and it only cost me twelve minutes.

The Q400's like to call which approach they are on. They come screaming in from 12,000' as well. Seems like less than 25% of arriving traffic fly the pattern or do a strait in. In this case strait ins are nice because you know where they are.

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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby drdehave » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:59 pm

Here's another of my, non-towered AP, Pet Peeves: Pilots who don't make "taxiing" calls. I could go at length with examples of problems created when they don't. But you've probably already heard or experienced them all. I always state my taxiing intentions, unless the frequency is just absolutely jammed, which is rarely the case--from on the ground.
Last edited by drdehave on Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby dstclair » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:11 pm

I didn't take Rich's pet peeve as saying he didn't do appropriate action to allow for safe pattern entry just that there are actions each pilot in that situation can do to make it both safe and accommodating. I figure both pilots need to be extra vigilant in the pattern, stay off mental 'auto pilot' and adapt to the situation at hand. Extending upwind or downwind is relatively easy and, IMHO, a safer maneuver than a pattern 360 although neither is high risk. There was a tragic example of what can happen in a pattern with one plane in the pattern and another (potentially) entering. 3 nice people died tragically on New Year's Eve at my home airport. A Luscombe had just taken off and appeared to have just entered downwind while a Piper Arrow crossed the field at pattern altitude. The Arrow clipped the tail of the Luscombe with both planes destroyed in fires on impact with the ground. There is only a preliminary report but my brief synopsis is consistent report and multiple eye witness accounts. There is no released data as to whether there was radio communication. There will no doubt be multiple factors in the fault but what if there were appropriate radio comms and the Luscombe had extended upwind? Or the Arrow would've crossed mid-field at TPA+500'? Or slowed down or done a 360 for spacing? This could also be a classic high-wing/low-wing visibility mid-air as it is possible the Arrow was descending while the Luscombe may have been climbing. Or a combination of several things.
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby MrMorden » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:56 pm

drdehave wrote:Here's another of my, non-towered AP, Pet Peeves: Pilots who don't make "taxiing" calls. I could go at length with examples of problems created when they don't. But you've probably already heard or experienced them all. I always state my taxiing intentions, unless the frequency is just absolutely jammed, which is rarely the case--from on the ground.


I think taxi calls need to be made when crossing runways or if there is the potential for conflict, but too much detail is not helpful. Sometimes I hear stuff like "aircraft 123ABC is at the ramp, taxiing to runway 31 via Alpha, Bravo, Charlie". That to me is way more info than needed, and in ten seconds nobody is going to know where you are anyway unless they can see you.

If I'm crossing a runway, I will say where, and usually where I'm going if I'm headed to a runway: "Flight Design 509CT is taxiing across runway 5/23 on Charlie, taxiing for 31." I then wait about three seconds before actually crossing; this gives anybody I missed on final time to pipe up. Folks now know where I am and where I'm going, but only insofar as needed to avoid conflicts. I don't tell people if I'm on my way to the ramp, because it doesn't really tell anybody anything useful. If I'm in somebody's way while taxiing it will become apparent visually and we can coordinate a solution at that time.

One thing I like to do if somebody is on final and I'm holding short, is to say: "Flight Design 509CT is holding short runway 31, for arriving traffic." That lets them know I see them and I'm not about to jump onto the runway and cause a problem or make them go around.

Non-towered airports are not like ATC controlled fields, and trying to shoehorn towered rules on to them is bound to lead to frustration. Some things annoy me at my field, like people making right traffic when left is specified, which is illegal. But most of the time if people are just paying attention there is no harm or foul if somebody wants to do something "nonstandard" like landing in the grass beside the runway, or back-taxiing down a runway that is not actively in use.

Personally, I like non-towered airports more than towered ones. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and I can do what I want without permission (within reason and with regard to safe operations, of course!).
Andy Walker
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Re: My Biggest Pet Peeve: Pattern Cyclers Who...

Postby 3Dreaming » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:14 pm

drdehave wrote: Nevertheless, what seems to happen at least a third of the time, is this. I get to the 1- or 2-mile mark, just before turning downwind and the curcuit-worker turns to crosswind, from his favorite upwind spot, directly towards me! It always surprises me that an instructor hasn’t instilled in her (or him) that simply extending upwind a bit is not only a courteous thing to do, but a smart one to improve safety through better spacing.


Traffic pattern procedures are spelled out in the AIM, as well as traffic pattern entry. The reason we have a standardized traffic pattern is for safety. What you are calling ROBOTIC is someone who is following proper procedure, and being safe. While altering the upwind may seem the courteous thing to do in your perspective, it may not improve safety. Extending their upwind for you puts them at greater risk for something happening to them, because they are now in a non standard position in relation to the airport and traffic pattern.

As for the radio calls, you can make all you want and it means diddly squat. Unless you have established communication with the aircraft in the traffic pattern you should have no expectation of them doing anything because of your radio calls. At a non towered airport unless you have verified established communication with the other aircraft you should assume that no one has heard a thing you have said.

For the airplane in the pattern it may be hard to judge if there is going to be a conflict with you entering the pattern. They may not even have you in sight yet. In this case the only way they would know if they needed to alter their pattern is if you let them know there is going to be an issue. Getting frustrated and announcing that you are making a 360° for spacing does nothing to fix the issue. If think there is going to be an issue because you will be entering the downwind before they get there, establish communication and speak up.

Just because you have made 10 radio calls in the last 5 miles doesn't give you any special rights entering the traffic pattern, over someone who is already operating there.


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