Latest RW Lesson: More Pattern Work

Today in my real-world flight instruction we did pattern work. This was the second lesson in the past three days, and I have been very grateful to get some time in the airplane after logging a whopping two hours in August. I think I had six or seven lessons either scrub or need to be canceled on my part in the past month, and that was getting very frustrating for me. But that’s another post.

Two days ago we got back in the saddle with hood work, slow flight under the hood, a power-off stall and recovery, emergency procedure (engine out) and recovery, steep turns, and turns around a point. All was with some good winds, some bumps, and the need to dodge a cloud or two. Two days ago I flew very well, and that was very heartening as I was concerned I was getting too rust. Today we did pattern work, flying out to Chester County airport to take advantage of its 5,000 foot runway and more easy touch-and-gos. Overall I flew pretty well, or as my CFI described it, “not too bad.” I cannot wait for the day where landings feel natural, although I feel like I’m getting much better and thinking pitch for speed, and being comfortable flying the airplane downhill with the nose pointed down right up to the landing itself. I think I’ve spent far too much time (nearly 2,000,000 miles) in airliners sitting on a three-degree glide slope. But we’re getting there.

Here’s todays pattern work via my phone and the CloudAhoy service:

CloudAhoy 2

Chester has a local noise abatement procedure to turn to 260 degrees after takeoff, which is why you see the oddly-shaped crosswind leg. And that one long downwind was when we extended to get behind a Baron that was making a straight-in final approach. That was a good learning experience, as I in essence did the full descent procedure (which would normally occur downwind/base/final) just on final approach. Wins were a bit across from the WNW, so we did a pretty good job of flying a square pattern given that. The main critique from my CFI was to anticipate my turns better.

I flew this same lesson in the sim yesterday as preparation for today, using CloudAhoy connected to Prepar3d. It’s interesting to compare those patterns with the real-world ones from today:

CloudAhoy 3

In the sim I’m clearly flying far too wide of a pattern, and too long of a pattern. It’s hard to judge when you’re 45 degrees ahead of the field in the sim, but I need to turn sooner if I’m going to simulate strong pattern work.

After the pattern work it was back to the home field for landing, which was fine. I ballooned just a bit over the runway, but I’ll correct that with smaller movements on the elevator. Here’s the whole flight, and you can click this image to enlarge it:



5 thoughts on “Latest RW Lesson: More Pattern Work

  1. thanks again. i’m having to rely on various forum posts or youtube to improve my pattern work. (default C172 x-plane 11 b17). i wish i had just one CFI and not 25. why? because depending where i read, instructions are different. eg. some say start descent procedures downwind opp the numbers, GUMPS, reduce power, flaps 1. others say do flaps 1 at the same time as turning base. also struggling on downwind with ATC readback, ‘looking for traffic’ no x after abc. so after 6mths i still don’t feel comfortable enough to sign in to IVAO or VATsim. any tips or definitive ref guide? 🙂

  2. Nothing other than know the numbers and procedure for the aircraft. For the Piper I fly abeam the numbers I go fuel pump on, carb heat on, throttle back to 1,500, first flaps, pitch down to fly 90 knots. After about 15 seconds it’s time to turn base, and after the turn I go next flaps and should be flying 80 knots once she settles from the flaps. Then I turn final and fly 70 knots adding last flaps on short final. Cross the fence around 65-70 and land. Not sure anymore what the numbers are for each step in the 172 but the process should be about the same (except with no carb heat). Keep the pattern tight – the strip should be half-way up your strut. Higher and you are too close. Farther down and you are too far away. And the turn to base really does come after about only 15 seconds (when the field is about 45 degrees behind you). That has been my real-world instruction.

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