Crossing midfield

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by jd21476, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    tonight I was flying back to my home airport and descending from 5500’ about 10 miles out to the North. I called the tower in the Class D airspace and told them inbound full stop. The ATC said to cross midfield and make left traffic for 27R. The TPA is 1600’ so I descended to 2600’ to cross mid-field.

    The ATC snapped at me and said I needed to be at TPA to cross. I quickly descended but this brings up my question. I seem to remember from training that you cross midfield at 1000’ above TPA to avoid crossing any airplanes on the downwind.

    By crossing at TPA I crossed straight thru the downwind traffic on the north side of the airport.
     
  2. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Maybe the controller was having a bad day
     
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  3. wilkersk

    wilkersk Pattern Altitude

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    When you cross mid-field for a direct downwind entry, you should be at pattern altitude to insure you're not descending into slower traffic. The controller told to make left traffic. So, you are in the pattern.

    That being said, I wouldn't sweat it unless the controller gave you a number to call.
     
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  4. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    "Cross midfield and make left traffic for 27 RIGHT?" That seems unorthodox to me, but not saying it didn't happen. You should enter the pattern at pattern altitude unless the tower says differently. Depending on how far apart 27 Left is from the Right runway I'd ask the tower which side of 27 Left it wanted me to make the downwind for the Right runway. Maybe they meant 27 Left?
     
  5. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I remember with my old instructor at a different airport we would approach from the north and we above TPA then as soon as we crossed the north TPA we would start a descending left turn to intercept the left downwind on the south side. Was this wrong?
     
  6. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is Gillespie Field in San Diego and at night make left traffic for the right is not unheard of due to terrain.
     
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  7. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Wrong if uncontrolled. At a tower, not so much unless they have local procedures to the contrary.
     
  8. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Well, here's a note from AirNav.com and the plot thickens:

    RWY 27R TPA 1588 (1200) RIGHT TFC SR-SS; TPA 1388 (1000) LEFT TFC SS-SR DUE TO 893 FT AGL MOUNTAIN 2.1 NM ENE OF ARPT.
    So let me get this straight. They want you to make right traffic during the day at 1200 AGL, but the pattern is 1000 AGL at night and you must make left traffic due to a mountain. So, they yell at you for not flying 200 feet below the daytime pattern altitude... at night? On the mountain side of the airport?! YGBSM. I don't think they have their act together and it warrants a phone call to the tower supervisor.
     
  9. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I feel like that is a weird Gillespie thing, I've done a lot of flying through there and they like to keep you low.. they will have you do something very similar on circling minimums when coming in either on the rnav from the North or the localizer d
     
  10. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Were you planning on being at TPA when you entered downwind? How far North were you when they snapped at you?
     
  11. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    My understanding is traffic direction is regulatory but TPA is not.
     
  12. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    They want you at pattern altitude when you enter the pattern. If you can't do it ask for a 360 in the control area or ask if it's ok to finish descent in the pattern.
     
  13. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Uncontrolled field vs controlled field procedures. Do you also wait to be cleared to land at an uncontrolled field?
     
  14. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Maybe the difference in “orthodox” procedure at uncontrolled vs “customary” at this or other towered field.

    Best way to learn is to call the tower on the phone and ask them what happened and why.
     
  15. dbahn

    dbahn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Whenever there's a doubt in situations like that I think that it's best to just state your altitude in the readback, i.e. "crossing midfield at 2600". That way you get an instruction to descend instead of having him "snap back" at you, and he may have had a good reason to want you at 1600 in the first place.
     
  16. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    i was planning on being at TPA when I entered the downwind. I was probably to 2-3 miles to the North
     
  17. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is exactly what occurred. I said I was crossing at 2600’ and he snapped at me and said I was supposed to be at TPA as if it is a normal thing. Thats why Im asking. Was I wrong for crossing 1000’ above TPA?
     
  18. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    You were directed to cross midfield and enter the downwind, not cross midfield, do a 360 to loose altitude, then enter the downwind.
     
  19. Witmo

    Witmo Pattern Altitude

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    You should have been at TPA because once over the airfield you are on a midfield crosswind if you're going to turn directly onto a downwind. If you were going to overfly the field and enter the pattern on a 45, you would want to be above TPA and descend well away from the field. You want to avoid ever descending to TPA while in the pattern. The tower can have you do anything they want but you can't mind read so if there's any confusion in your mind of what to do, ask.
     
  20. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Were you planning to make a left turn directly into downwind just after crossing overhead the field? Or were you going to maneuver to the South and come back to enter downwind?
     
  21. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    No, the controller corrected him for crossing midfield to join the downwind 1000' above TPA. You should be at TPA to join the downwind. At this point, you're over the field and the mountain 2 miles away is no factor.

    500'-1000' above would be correct if the instructions had indicated a teardrop entry.
     
  22. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    Also the controller may have had, or could at any time have a jet screaming in at the turbine pattern altitude, good practice to be at pattern altitude a couple miles out at a controlled field. Someone else can quote if there is a regulation or not.
     
  23. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    The controller said he needed to be at "TPA to cross". That's 1000 feet AGL at night for 27R. In the day, traffic doesn't cross and TPA is 1200 feet AGL. So, at night, they want him 107 feet above the mountain. I say foul.

    All that aside, I've made plenty of night and day visual approaches coming out of high altitude and would never have expected what the tower did here. They most likely have his altitude readout anyway, so it isn't a big surprise. Of course, when it's convenient, entering level at TPA is best, but as James said not regulatory.
     
  24. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    You're turning left to 090, so you're coming in from the north - the 893' "mountain" is behind you and to your left and still lower than TPA. I have it on pretty good authority that 1000' above the runway, there's no chance of CFIT with a hill 2 miles away.

    Point it, you join pattern at TPA. The terrain had nothing to do with the OP's thinking, it was "i'm crossing the runway, better be 1000' above TPA". That's incorrect for joining the downwind, the crossing is done at TPA for safety reasons. Crossing to fly to the other side, then making a teardrop turn onto the 45 is done 500-1000' above.

    The FAA does not regulate pattern entry. Like a lot of things of course this isn't regulatory, except in the school of hard knocks, which is what happens to your airplane when you descent into someone already in the pattern.
     
  25. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    How were you expecting to cross at TPA+1,000 and reach TPA by the time you entered downwind? At 3/4 mile and 90 knots that's a 2,000fpm descent.
     
  26. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    He's descending from 5,000 feet and from the north. I assume it's because of terrain, after all that's why they do left traffic for 27R in the first place, according to the OP. The "mountain" is just one data point. Expecting someone to descend to 1000 AGL, the south side TPA, prior to crossing midfield from the north just seems all wrong at night with terrain north of the airport that raises TPA to 1200 feet on the north side and is only allowed to be flown in daylight.
     
  27. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    We've had some CFIT accidents in my area over the years for multiple reasons, all transients ... there are some mountain flying night tricks (like disappearing lights), but why depend on something like that? When you get auto-kinesis flying at night out here in the west, you'll see my point (only got it once - bit it WILL get your attention).
     
  28. jd21476

    jd21476 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You are exactly right, now that I remember, we would over fly and then descend away from the downwind and enter on the 45.
     
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  29. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    That would be correct for an Uncontrolled airport, not a controlled airport. https://www.faa.gov/documentlibrary/media/advisory_circular/ac_90-66b.pdf

    When a TPA is published for a controlled airport, the pilot is expected to use it.
     
  30. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I think that's what I said - you should be at TPA when crossing to join downwind. You're unlikely to get instructions for a teardrop entry at a towered airport, but if you did, safety would dictate crossing above pattern altitude.

    I believe the OP was conflating non-towered and towered. At a towered airport, you basically just fly what they tell you to fly, still prudently looking to see if they've made a mistake.
     
  31. benyflyguy

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    I would simply tell the tower that despite being a piston that for today you identify as a turbine and require a higher traffic pattern altitude.
     
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  32. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Arguably at a towered field, barring being assigned an altitude, there's not one that applies to routing in the vicinity of the airport. What does he expect you to do if you enter a 5 mile final, immediately dive down to 1000 AGL?

    Now on the ohter hand (and I'm sure I'm going to get people to argue with me), there's nothing that says you need to be +500 or whatever when entering the pattern midfield. +500 applies to OVERFLYING the pattern and teardropping on on the far side. Entering crosswind-midfield at pattern altitude is not prohibited even in uncontrolled situations, and in much of the world it's the required or recommended way of doing it anyhow.
     
  33. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    That's what I understand and do. Fly, pattern altitude, Crossfield (mid field crosswind). If someone is in the pattern and will be a conflict, I'll wait or circle around for a downwind entry.
     
  34. hindsight2020

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  35. Robert S.

    Robert S. Filing Flight Plan

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  36. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    1000 (or 500 depending on how you count) above is the crosswind to go to the other side, fly another 2-3 miles away from the airport, and then make a teardrop turn to enter downwind on a 45. Old standard FAA for a nontowered field.

    The crosswind to downwind is done at pattern altitude.

    Here's what the FAA says. The discussion is about nontowered but the standardized entries and patterns are the same. See particularly paragraph 11.3.
     
  37. dtuuri

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  38. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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  39. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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  40. dtuuri

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    Not at all, Paul. A midfield cross has the pilots looking away from each other. On the standard entry, toward each other. Of course, I'm sure the guilty will deny it. :rolleyes: