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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:27 AM   #1
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midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

I've been wondering a couple of things about flying to an airport. If navigation leads you to the center of the airport do you then fly over midfield at 1000' to get into the pattern or do you maneuver right before the airport to get in the pattern?

Second question, if you want to observe the windsocks and find them way too small at 1000' what do you do to get a better look? Do you circle until you got them found and figured out? And when you throw the midfield flyover into this do you flyover at 1000' and then maneuver in circles around the airport to observe the socks? This is assuming a small airport where there's no traffic but maybe a cow or two nearby.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:34 AM   #2
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Personally, I try to establish the wind direction before I get there from other clues, i.e. nearby AWOS or CTAF calls, dust movement, GPS groundspeed vs. TAS (if so equipped) etc.

If I must overfly the pattern to get a look at the wind sock, I'll do it at 1,500 mid field, and if I just can't see the windsock I'll take my best guess and go around if it's apparent that won't work out. Usually, if you can't see it, it's calm enough the sock is limp and it won't matter anyway.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:37 AM   #3
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

The mid-field flyover should be at least 500' over pattern (usually 1500' AGL). You should be able to see the windsock, if not, do another pass, until you do or look for other indications of where the wind is, such as smoke. Standard pattern entry is a 45 to downwind. If there is no traffic, sometimes I will do an overhead entry into downwind.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #4
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

On the first question, many instructors including myself discourage flying directly over the field at TPA because there is too much chance of conflict with traffic already in the pattern or entering on the 45. If you need to check the wind sock, I think it's better to overfly at 500 above the highest TPA (check the A/FD to see if there is a higher heavy/jet pattern), then proceed clear of the pattern before descending to TPA for a normal pattern entry.

As for being unable to see the sock, there are many other clues as to wind direction, including preflight briefing, weather reports en route, nearby ASOS/AWOS, blowing smoke, wavetops in nearby water, tree top movements, etc. Those should be sufficient to determine which runway to use. And since you mention cows, IIRC, they generally turn butt to the wind. Trying to circle down below TPA to see the sock is not anything I would recommend.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #5
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

What's an overhead entry to downwind? Is it just entering the downwind from midfield?

Does anyone know of some drawings that shows the various entries coming from different directions? There's a lot to think about like a/c departing crosswind and knowing which traffic pattern is used and which runway is active. I'd just like some graphic that I can see and put in my head so I'll at least minimize any issue when visiting a new place.

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The mid-field flyover should be at least 500' over pattern (usually 1500' AGL). You should be able to see the windsock, if not, do another pass, until you do or look for other indications of where the wind is, such as smoke. Standard pattern entry is a 45 to downwind. If there is no traffic, sometimes I will do an overhead entry into downwind.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:46 AM   #6
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

I probably already have some idea of expected surface winds from the pre-flight. Check it with surrounding ASOS/AWOS/ATIS. Or call Flight Service in the air. If NORDO, check for dust, smoke, cloud movement, vegetation blowing, etc. Listen and perhaps ask on CTAF. You can sometimes (not always) infer surface winds from winds aloft if you can get them. Figure 45 CCW from the wind at 3K AGL at least as a starting point (adjust as indications warrant). As you lower, you can use an avionics device or your eyeballs and line up on something and see what the wind does to you. Remember that wind usually goes CW with altitude, so adjust.
I'm no great fan of these mid field flyovers. I am one of the evil ones who tends to fly a straight in, base, or whatever works. Before I'd do a flyover, I'd try to figure out way out there the likely pattern entry and simply put a little angle on the approach so I'd arrive o/a pattern altitude at about the right place to enter using standard turns.
But, whatever. Everyone is good for something, even if it is only to serve as a bad example, so have at it.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:46 AM   #7
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Old March 27th, 2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Traffic patterns are well documented for most airports and you should have that information available. If there is no documentation, you can assume a left pattern. An overhead entry is not really standard, therefore I only do it, if there is no traffic. It can be anywhere between upwind and midfield and you simply turn downwind from overhead and drop altitude to TPA. It is important to be familiar with all information available about the destination airport, including runways, traffic patterns, frequencies and current NOTAMs.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 12:23 PM   #9
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Originally Posted by Ron Levy View Post
And since you mention cows, IIRC, they generally turn butt to the wind.
That sounds counter intuitive. Wouldn't they end up smelling their own farts?

Last edited by Sac Arrow; March 27th, 2012 at 12:26 PM.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:33 PM   #10
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

That answers it perfectly. Although what happened that day is we went randomly from airport to airport so NOTAMS were not noted in advance for at least me. I thought the smoke pattern nearby was a pretty good indicator at this lonely air field but I had to fly around it 2 times to see the socks and confirm with the CFI what the wind was doing. and ss we were entering one field he asked why I was veering away from the runway and said he would just fly over it but the details of his comment were not disclosed.


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Traffic patterns are well documented for most airports and you should have that information available. If there is no documentation, you can assume a left pattern. An overhead entry is not really standard, therefore I only do it, if there is no traffic. It can be anywhere between upwind and midfield and you simply turn downwind from overhead and drop altitude to TPA. It is important to be familiar with all information available about the destination airport, including runways, traffic patterns, frequencies and current NOTAMs.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #11
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Originally Posted by pilotod View Post
What's an overhead entry to downwind? Is it just entering the downwind from midfield?
No. It is an entry via the upwind leg with a turn to the downwind. From the Pilot/Controller Glossary:
Quote:
OVERHEAD MANEUVER- A series of predetermined maneuvers prescribed for aircraft (often in formation) for entry into the visual flight rules (VFR) traffic pattern and to proceed to a landing. An overhead maneuver is not an instrument flight rules (IFR) approach procedure. An aircraft executing an overhead maneuver is considered VFR and the IFR flight plan is cancelled when the aircraft reaches the "initial point" on the initial approach portion of the maneuver. The pattern usually specifies the following:
a. The radio contact required of the pilot.
b. The speed to be maintained.
c. An initial approach 3 to 5 miles in length.
d. An elliptical pattern consisting of two 180 degree turns.
e. A break point at which the first 180 degree turn is started.
f. The direction of turns.
g. Altitude (at least 500 feet above the conventional pattern).
h. A "Roll-out" on final approach not less than 1/4 mile from the landing threshold and not less than 300 feet above the ground.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:50 PM   #12
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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An overhead entry is not really standard, ... It can be anywhere between upwind and midfield and you simply turn downwind from overhead and drop altitude to TPA.
That is not correct. See my post above.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:54 PM   #13
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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That sounds counter intuitive. Wouldn't they end up smelling their own farts?
foregut fermenter. most the gas is out the front end.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #14
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Originally Posted by Ron Levy View Post
That is not correct. See my post above.
I stand corrected.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 12:29 AM   #15
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

I've often wished more airports had wind T's. The best ones I've seen are made out of old airplane fuselages, and painted international orange. Mount 'em on a stick, keep the stick greased, and you ALWAYS know where the wind is from.

Wind socks can be hard to see, and are not always where you expect them to be.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 01:01 AM   #16
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Quote:
Originally Posted by John221us View Post
Traffic patterns are well documented for most airports and you should have that information available. If there is no documentation, you can assume a left pattern. An overhead entry is not really standard, therefore I only do it, if there is no traffic. It can be anywhere between upwind and midfield and you simply turn downwind from overhead and drop altitude to TPA. It is important to be familiar with all information available about the destination airport, including runways, traffic patterns, frequencies and current NOTAMs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Levy View Post
No. It is an entry via the upwind leg with a turn to the downwind. From the Pilot/Controller Glossary:
Quote:
OVERHEAD MANEUVER- A series of predetermined maneuvers prescribed for aircraft (often in formation) for entry into the visual flight rules (VFR) traffic pattern and to proceed to a landing. An overhead maneuver is not an instrument flight rules (IFR) approach procedure. An aircraft executing an overhead maneuver is considered VFR and the IFR flight plan is cancelled when the aircraft reaches the "initial point" on the initial approach portion of the maneuver. The pattern usually specifies the following:
a. The radio contact required of the pilot.
b. The speed to be maintained.
c. An initial approach 3 to 5 miles in length.
d. An elliptical pattern consisting of two 180 degree turns.
e. A break point at which the first 180 degree turn is started.
f. The direction of turns.
g. Altitude (at least 500 feet above the conventional pattern).
h. A "Roll-out" on final approach not less than 1/4 mile from the landing threshold and not less than 300 feet above the ground.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Levy View Post
That is not correct. See my post above.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John221us View Post
I stand corrected.

Ron, common. That is clearly for military aircraft in formation (mostly) or alone. GA and civilian commercial operators don't do 'formation' or 'break out maneuvers' or join final at 1/4 mile.

That not withstanding...

I fly a 1,500' AGL traffic pattern as does every other turbine operator. Mostly I shoot visual approaches to towered and non-towered airports and if that's the case then I align for a straight in (outside 5 miles) or get in a downwind. If neither are convenient then I over-fly the field at 1,500 AGL and enter left traffic (unless right depicted on 10-9 or segmented circle) and land. My pattern is way wide of any GA traffic and it's never caused a conflict coming in.


My point is, an 'Overhead Maneuver' is not what GA planes do. Flying over the field at 1,500 AGL, looking at the sock and joining the pattern at 1,000 AGL is not an 'Overhead Maneuver'. We're just flying by looking at the sock and landing. We're not doing two 180 degree break turns to land in formation or broken from formation to land.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 01:38 AM   #17
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Try AC90-66a

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/planning/ae...nts/90-66a.pdf

also notice section 5a that refers to

http://www.aopa.org/asf/publications/sa08.pdf

Notice the Alternate pattern entry.

And if you can't see the wind sock make your best guess and be prepare to go around if it doesn't look right. You should have a pretty good guess as to where the wind is coming from.

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Old March 28th, 2012, 01:39 AM   #18
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Honeck View Post
I've often wished more airports had wind T's. The best ones I've seen are made out of old airplane fuselages, and painted international orange. Mount 'em on a stick, keep the stick greased, and you ALWAYS know where the wind is from.

Wind socks can be hard to see, and are not always where you expect them to be.
AIM warns that some wind T's and tetrahedrons are manually pointed... I've never seen one that was, but I figure it's the FAA's way of saying some of them have completely rusted bearings... haha.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #19
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Ron, common. That is clearly for military aircraft in formation (mostly) or alone. GA and civilian commercial operators don't do 'formation' or 'break out maneuvers' or join final at 1/4 mile.
Actually, there is a good bit of civilian formation flying in light aircraft, and when in formation, we do use the overhead pattern to break up the formation.

Quote:
I fly a 1,500' AGL traffic pattern as does every other turbine operator. Mostly I shoot visual approaches to towered and non-towered airports and if that's the case then I align for a straight in (outside 5 miles) or get in a downwind. If neither are convenient then I over-fly the field at 1,500 AGL and enter left traffic (unless right depicted on 10-9 or segmented circle) and land. My pattern is way wide of any GA traffic and it's never caused a conflict coming in.
...as long as nobody is trying to fly around over the field at 1500 AGL looking at the windsock.
Quote:
My point is, an 'Overhead Maneuver' is not what GA planes do. Flying over the field at 1,500 AGL, looking at the sock and joining the pattern at 1,000 AGL is not an 'Overhead Maneuver'. We're just flying by looking at the sock and landing. We're not doing two 180 degree break turns to land in formation or broken from formation to land.
Actually, it really is what some of us do, although at civilian fields, we do the entry at TPA, not TPA+500, just to avoid the conflicts you envision.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:13 AM   #20
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

GEEZER RANT FOLLOWS:

What happened to Basic Airmanship????!?!?!?!

OUT
------------------------------------------------

Anyway, listen to the nearest ASOS, listen to the traffic at the airport you're flying to...

Enter the pattern normally based on your best guess, look for indications, sense ground movement.

If you can't figure out the wind on final continue and do a low pass if it's a tailwind and transition to opposite side downwind.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:54 AM   #21
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

Did anyone mention licking your finger and sticking it out the side wind.

I live here in cattle country, Cows do put their butts into the wind, but only on cold days. No, I don't know what a cold day is to a cow. I would never use this method from a plane.

When I get within 20KM from an uncontrolled airport I monitor the local CTAF to hear the runway being used and then I still check the wind sock from the pattern. However, I have not seen or heard another plane airborne all winter (while I was airborne).

In the mountains, most airports have wind socks at both ends of the runway, Make sure you check both. I've seen 2 different wind directions at the same airport.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 09:31 AM   #22
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

That's all cool Cap'n Ron, I was just sort of under the impression the OP was looking for a way to see the sock. I've always been under the impression that an overflight of the aerodrome for a 'looksee' should be at 1,500' to keep you above any established traffic.

It's a bit of a coincidence that 1,500' is the same altitude planes burning kerosine fly the pattern...weird. I suppose most of those guys A.) have a radio so there's AT LEAST a 50% chance of the radio de-conflicting the jet and the 'looksee' guy, and B.) jets usually come in on the visual approach. Typically I'm on a straight in. (Obviously if I need a pattern I use it)

*all alts AGL.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 09:40 AM   #23
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

I don't think I have ever relied on a sock or tee for wind info while approaching an airport. I like to plan my approach to the airport based on winds and have that info long before getting there.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 10:02 AM   #24
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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Originally Posted by Captain View Post
That's all cool Cap'n Ron, I was just sort of under the impression the OP was looking for a way to see the sock. I've always been under the impression that an overflight of the aerodrome for a 'looksee' should be at 1,500' to keep you above any established traffic.
I think 500 above the highest published TPA is a more workable and safer standard for overflights to check the runways/windsock.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 10:05 AM   #25
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Re: midfield flyover and tiny wind socks

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I don't think I have ever relied on a sock or tee for wind info while approaching an airport. I like to plan my approach to the airport based on winds and have that info long before getting there.
The actual wind data are not always available "long before getting there," and even when they are, things can change. I'd much rather use the visual cues at that airport when I get there than rely on preflight briefing material.
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