Am I doing this correct?

I flew VFR into indianpolis the other day and ATC instructed “fly left traffic downwind 23R”. I tried to enter what I assume is the downwind leg at a 45 degree angle about midway and I was coming from the southwest. At what point do I turn right to enter the downwind leg. I did it right in between the middle of the two parallel runways. Also I seem to be getting landing clearance right as I reach the runway threshold, is it generally correct to fly the downwind as long as you need to? I don’t like having really short finals. Screenshot 2021-11-08 041126

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Just one thing. Forget the Sim ATC.
IRL, you would never get a VFR Clearance like this at this Airport.

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Have any suggestions for a free mod/addon?

VATSIM :slight_smile:

Nothing better then live ATC that use real world instructions!


Look at Pilot2ATC. Best offline ATC at the moment. Also possible to get a vectored approach via ATC.


fyi , when you have to fly across a runway, in this case the 23L you have to cross it on the middle of the ranway and not over threshold as you shown.


Didn’t know that!

Thanks for the info!

I’ve heard allot about P2ATC but never tried it out.

Just got it installed and configured, pretty neat. Wish the voices were a bit more realistic but I’ll take accuracy over voices (MSFS Built in).

“need” as determined by what?
What I learned in flight school is, that we fly the pattern in a manner, that we want to stay close to the airport, so that in principle we are in gliding distance. Reason for an extended downwind leg would only be to sequence behind another aircraft on final.
Here would be some reading:

Thanks for the clarification on that. That was another concern I had.

So look here. So I got 15 different voices…


They still sound a bit to robotic in my opinion only. I found these today, Amazon Polly.

Sound pretty good.

Hi DrFillyBlunt,
As many already said here, the instructions given by the sim ATC are not realistic, especially in this case where the sim ATC acts as if there was no other usable runway. In reality, you would be instructed to fly right traffic downwind 23R, but never oh never be allowed to do a downwind approach between two parallel RWY. It would be just too risky from a spacing perspective if another plane is on short final for the 23L

@DrFillyBlunt Let me start by saying I have a vanilla between my teeth as I type this…

You have already read that crossing midfield was the correct way to join at this particular runway. Your 45 degree join is fine at an airport with a single runway.

The assumption that a left traffic instruction would never happen here is not entirely correct however. Due to noise abatement procedures or even possibly terrain considerations this could very well be assigned.

@ShavedTomcat10 suggested that this wouldn’t happen due to possible conflict with arriving traffic on the parallel runway. Not wrong, just incomplete. If both runways were in use for arrivals, there is no chance left traffic would be active for your runway. I submit that ATC would have considered that. It is very unlikely that if a left pattern was active, the parallel runway would be active for departures ONLY. This is fairly common at airports with parallel runways. One runway for arrivals and one for departures. Far more efficient and 0 conflict with traffic.

At most airports they will frown on you extending your downwind leg without a good reason and communicating it to the tower prior to entry so they can ensure separation with the trailing traffic. They may ask you to extend if there is an aircraft on a long final. They are expecting you to fly a standard pattern, turning base for a 1/2 to 1 mile final. Extending the downwind could have the guy behind you turning base earlier and meeting you on the final leg. I have been on downwind and had ATC point out the traffic ahead is on an extended downwind so I can be sure to slot in behind him. I have had them follow the call to me with a call to the guy in front to “expedite” the turn to base. Usually in a rather firm tone.

Don’t let all the nay sayers get to you. ATC in the sim works pretty well as long as the AI traffic doesn’t screw things up. Just remember that for the most part ATC is just going follow whatever you filed. They will not correct the instructions for a poor flightplan. They may surprise you with altitude changes but that is usually because you filed an altitude that conflicts with airspace restrictions, which they will follow.

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Re your last paragraph, I’m finding that too.

I’m easing myself into the A320 on shortish flights up and down the UK (London to Glasgow, that sort of thing), and despite all the negativity the ATC, within the confines of the sim, works quite nicely. Maybe a bit late on the TOD, but never so late it’s unmanageable.

Now, if we could just get regional accents…

Great idea to learn real-world procedures is to pick an airport on, pull up the charts and listen. You’ll figure out plenty and start to recognize repeatable patterns. Flying up the middle of an airport to enter into a left downwind as you’ve shown is a no-no. I also suspect a left downwind into runway 23R would be an exception of sort where you MIGHT have been on a plan to land on 23L but because of traffic you’d be asked to change to runway 23R.

I fly at a very busy GA airport that has parallel runways. We run them like a busy Bravo field. Left traffic for runway 25L and right traffic for runway 25R with separate tower frequencies for north and south side runways.

I have been in the pattern to 25R and told “Change to runway 25L” by ATC. That’s a non issue because I would still be on a right downwind, I’d simply have a longer base leg, which ATC would most likely call for you to line up for the turn to final for 25L. That would be done for traffic purposes - Typically lots of departures off 25R would cause this at my field.

And yes, believe the nay sayers about using ANY default sim ATC. You will learn many bad habits that will raise the ire of controllers in an online environment like VATSIM, and will get you fined or worse in the real world. Take the time to learn real ATC procedures and then SIMULATE them in your head while flying, or simply fly VATSIM.

Its really not that hard once you dive in. Most of flying communications are finely choreographed exchanges that are mostly rigid and repetitive. Learn what is expected for each phase of flight, starting with ground procedures and work your way up. Most match a very similar pattern, with details filled in as you gain experience - Who are you, where are you, and what do you want to do?


Following up on the OPs original graphic. Standard traffic patterns at U.S. based airports are left hand traffic, unless specific airport operations dictates otherwise. In the case of parallel runways, that would usually be an exception where runway 23R would have right traffic, and left traffic for runway 23L

Here is an example of how this would have worked IRL at an airport like KIND. The red line is what you did, which looks correct, but creates some challenges with the overflight of a potentially active runway and a head-on alignment with traffic landing on two parallel runways. ATC won’t generally tell you how to fly the pattern. They are going to expect you to know how to do that. The red would not be correct in this scenario and IRL ATC would call you on that.

Given your approach from the Southwest as you mentioned, IRL, you would most likely be given track “2” above. ATC would have communicated “N1234, enter right base runway 23R”. There are other options but all will be related to either getting you established on downwind, base, or final. It’s the entry to these that is important. The green lines is how these would typically play out for runway 23L and 23R.


Usually you turn base when the threshold is 45 degrees behind the wingtip, the wing-striping (or equivalent on high wing aircraft) should be kept on the runway for correct downwind distance, with those two key-points you should have a long enough base and final leg. You could also time 3 x height / 100 when passing threshold (e.g. 1000 ft AGL = 30 seconds).

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In your description and image, Track 2 would have resulted in the arriving aircraft having to cross the departure path of both runways, unless the pilot was to remain clear of the zone and circle around to the north before entering the zone. Crossing midfield above circuit height is the preferred method but may need clarification from ATC.

Without knowing what the noise abatement procedures are or how ATC is using the runways there is no way for a pilot arriving VFR to know why ATC has directed them as they did in this case.

If this was me arriving and I was given the instruction to join left downwind for 23R, I would have responded with, “Please confirm, crossing 23L midfield for downwind right for 23R?”

As mentioned previously, it is unlikely that righthand traffic is going to be used if 23L is being used for arrivals as well. If 23L is being used for departures only then crossing midfield is correct, to avoid any conflict with aircraft climbing out on the departure path.

The pilot should be able to confirm this through ATIS. “Arrivals use 23R ONLY, Departures use 23L ONLY…”, in which case I would have adjusted my course to arrive at the airport from the west.

As a pilot, unfortunately we don’t get to say “without knowing” in this situation. It is your responsibility to know. “All available information” is how part of the FAR regulation regarding this is written. You would know all of what you stated. That would include checking ATIS, NOTAMS and AF/Ds as sources of information for this airport. Noise abatement? Is there one? the above sources would tell you and should be known before you step into the aircraft for that flight.

No it wouldn’t. Why? Because you would have dialed up ATIS, MILES before getting close to the CLASS B airspace, and would have know what runways were in use. You would have then adjusted your flight path to arrive on the NORTH side of the airport for a proper pattern entry. Additionally, you would have contacted Indy Approach to get clearance into the CLASS B and would have received information on what type of approach and runway to expect. Does MSFS ATC simulate that real-world practice?

As for traffic patterns, since this is a sim, and not real-world, there would be no “logic” in the sim ATC to issue this clearance. It’s just not right. You’d be given LEFT pattern to 23L or RIGHT pattern to 23R. If you WERE to be assigned a left pattern to 23R, you would certainly not fly the pattern depicted bisecting the airport. There are ALL kinds of safety issues with that. Pattern 2 depicted IS the standard pattern you would fly.

Not to drag the point on “the nay-sayers” of sim ATC, but this is the exact reason why you want to be careful using it. This is flat-out an incorrect clearance that would be given in the real world at a busy class Bravo airport like KIND. I encourage all to learn the proper traffic pattern techniques then use that to make your judgements about sim ATC, not the other way around.

First, let’s note this is a Class “Bravo” airport and airspace. There is no VFR traffic crossing mid-field to land. The challenge is that the ATC instruction from the sim is flawed. Track 2 is exactly one of the scenarios that would play out - As mentioned, I fly at an airport with parallel runways like this and this is how a standard traffic pattern works.