Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

30 Things Not To Do In The Pattern

A how-to guide that guarantees lousy landings

25 Push the nose down to get rid of altitude if you're high on glideslope. Yes, pushing the nose down will get rid of altitude, but at the cost of increased speed. On light aircraft, nose attitude is the primary control for controlling airspeed and power controls altitude (still a controversial subject, by the way).

26 Don't go around for any reason. Once committed, land! This kind of attitude is plain crazy! As long as you have fuel and decent weather, there's no landing that absolutely has to be made. If it's not going well, go around.

Be sure to enter the pattern at pattern altitude. If you enter from above, you increase the chance of coming down on top of someone else and having a mid-air collision. Fly at the same altitude as the rest of the traffic so you can see them, and they can see you.

27 As long as you're flying a tri-gear airplane, don't worry about straightening it out in a crosswind. At some level this is true, but it's not only a truly terrible flying technique, but can side-load the gear and damage it. Align the nose with the centerline with rudder and use bank angle (ailerons) to kill the drift. It's all about proper flying technique.

28 Have an attitude of: We have the right of way and won't give in to anyone for anything. This is another stupid way of looking at flying. A lot of people who had the right-of-way are dead because of that attitude.

29 Because of our right of way, there's little reason to look for traffic: They'll give in to us. Flying is all about safety, and safety is all about survival, and both are built around seeing the other guy and avoiding him. Fly like you'd ride a motorcycle: with huge amounts of paranoia and defensiveness. We're in a combat zone up there and should conduct ourselves accordingly.

30 Don't believe any of the numbered lines above. We were just funnin' with you, so don't do any of them. Professionals or not, we don't do them.

The truth is that there's an unlimited number of no-nos we should avoid doing in the pattern. If each of us thinks about it for a minute or so, we can come up with another half-dozen things we shouldn't be doing. By investing a little gray matter analyzing the situation and coming up with our own list of no-nos, we create a positive image by eliminating the things we're not supposed to do.


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