Basic guidance where a small airfield has no tower etc

Hi. Novice here, Xbox user flying (attempting) Cessna 172

My question is two fold. One about navigation and the other about using the toggle and input buttons while programming a flight

If I fly from say Newcastle and I want to fly to a very small airport with no ILS or tower. So basically a field. Although GPS will take me direct. Am I going to have just make visual fly past to live up a runway. Is there a YouTube video showing this someone could post a link?

Second question - if I wanted to start a new flight after landing. When if go to the cockpit, open up flight Manet in the cockpit, the Xbox does allow you to enter way points etc (does this make sense?

Any videos or links, much approached.

Sorry for the short reply, but just about to pop out… (not my video by the way :slight_smile: )

Ep. 12: Proper Traffic Pattern Entry | Non-towered airports - YouTube


And this would be worth a look …

Uncontrolled Aerodromes - Procedures - SKYbrary Aviation Safety


Here’s a link to the FAA Flying Handbook

Chapter eight and chapter nine address pattern work and approaches.

Welcome to the community of aviation! :slight_smile:


What a lovely welcome, thank you

Normally when VFR you enter the pattern on a 45 to the downwind (usually left traffic) or you overfly the field at midfield and enter the downwind.

When on an IFR clearance, when you leave center/approach, and change frequency to get the WX at the field, then you’d change to the CTAF frequency and make your calls to the local traffic.

It’s safer to make a visual approach and pattern entry in VMC, but if flying a GPS approach in IMC, then you can fly straight in, making the radio calls.

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If you are interested in flying procedures correctly, you should fly a VFR traffic pattern.

Key-points in a standard European traffic circuit:

  1. If no radio, fly over the airfield, at least 500 ft above circuit altitude (usually 1500 ft AAL), spot the signaling square and determine runway in use and other info for landing.
  2. Join (usually left-hand) circuit at 1000 ft AAL mid-downwind, approach at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Select the first stage of flaps on mid-downwind / before joining.
  4. Lateral distance to the runway depends on the aircraft, usually for low wing aircraft you keep the wing striping over the runway.
  5. Turn to base when the runway is 45 degrees behind the wingtip, alternatively you could time from abeam the threshold: height / 100 x 3. For example, 1000 ft = 30 sec.
  6. Approx. 10 seconds before turning base, lower landing gear.
  7. Make a descending turn to base, then final.
  8. The final leg should start wings level from at least 300 ft AAL.
  9. For subsequent circuits climb to 1000 ft AAL on runway track before turning to crosswind leg, a climbing turn is allowed to stay within the circuit area but not below 500 ft AAL.
  10. When leaving the traffic circuit, turn away 45 degrees on crosswind leg.

The most important key-point is to keep the wing striping over runway on downwind, this way, if you fly the circuit higher or lower, the distance is adjusted automatically i.e. when flying higher a wider circuit is flown.

In the UK procedures are a little different, you might want to look that up if interested. I don’t know anymore from memory but I believe the biggest difference is joining downwind from the inside via overhead the airport.

And it seems the US enters at a 45 degree angle on downwind. So there are some difference regarding entering and joining.

Yeah, I’ve never heard of entering the downwind in an active pattern at a 90 degree angle, other than at midfield after overflying the field where you can clearly see other traffic already in the downfield and entering at a 45 degree angle.

That move would cause you to flunk your checkride here in the US.

And I’d add that in RL, entering the pattern by overflying the field is acceptable but discouraged.

The safest and encouraged manner of entering a pattern at an uncontrolled field is by entering at a 45 degree angle to the downwind, at pattern altitude, with any crosswind traffic in sight.

That way, if traffic is heavy and you have aircraft on downwind or crosswind in the way, you can do a 360 or pull away and come back around.

If you’re over the field at pattern altitude, you have fewer options if traffic is heavy. And joining the downwind at a 90 degree angle also leaves you few options. What do you do when traffic doesn’t allow you to turn into the downwind…overfly the field? Turn left for an upwind and fly the pattern? Dangerous.

I have never found this unsafe. I guess the philosophy here is to keep traffic away from the active pattern until actually joining. When the pattern is full you can easily orbit around and then join behind. I don’t see this any more “unsafe” then joining 90 degrees from the inside. I don’t understand why joining at a 45 degree angle is supposed to be safe, sure you can turn away a little quicker but it is really easy to miss other traffic when joining on a converging track instead of at a 90 degree angle.

In any case, this is how a standard VFR circuit is flown in most of Europe so take it or leave it :joy:.

All nice but not applicable to Europe. Deviating from standard procedures is what makes flying at uncontrolled airports unsafe. The way a standard VFR circuit is flown is described in the counties AIP, you can’t just deviate from it.

To see and be seen is easiest at a 90 degree angle, where you are moving in relation to each other. Not on converging tracks. I assume that is the reason it has been chosen this way in most of Europe.

Are you a certificated pilot?

When you’re on a 1 mile 45 for the downwind, descending to or at pattern altitude, you can see the entire airport and the pattern in front of you.

If traffic is heavy, you can easily just make a shallow turn to the right (or left depending on traffic direction) and come back around.

If you’re heading at a 90 degree angle to the downwind, then you cannot see all parts of the pattern well, and you would have to do a 180 or overfly the field to break off the approach. Not as safe at all.

And I don’t live in Europe thank goodness. More than 50% of worldwide general aviation traffic is in the US, so I think we have a good handle on it.

Thousands of hours of experience as flight instructor and ATPL(A).

Not a really strong argument, doesn’t make it necessarily safer. FAA just decided to do it differently, same as with RTF. Most of the world follows standard ICAO phraseology, FAA decides to adopt something of their own…

First thing is to see and be seen, which is why converging tracks are avoided. Two aircraft on a 45 degree converging track flying at the same speed do not move in relation to each other. You don’t need to overfly the field at all, we don’t do overhead joining of the traffic circuit. Joining 90 degree on downwind you have a clear sight on crosswind and downwind, potentially spot other aircraft sooner and can orbit when there isn’t enough space.

Either way this is the way it is done on this side of the pond, deal with it :joy:.

Another discussion of pattern entry and why a 45 degree is safest. Those physics don’t change in Europe, so my assumption is more near misses happen, but I know traffic is also at much lower levels. So maybe the lower levels of GA traffic mitigate less safe procedures.

I don’t think one is necessarily safer than the other, as long as everybody does the same and follows local rules and regulations. There is less GA traffic here indeed, although there are some very high density VFR airports in Europe as well. GA is way more regulated in EASA countries, its more expensive, the requirements to obtain a PPL are strict, maintenance procedures are more strict. Not everyone owns and flies a C172.