Fly In - day after reflection on idiots in pattern

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Stephen Shore, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have attended and landed at several fly-ins - including Oshkosh. Yesterday I attended a local fly-in at Rusk County Airport (KRFI) in NE Texas. What I saw in that traffic pattern bordered on insanity and alot of just plain rudeness. And it almost ended tragically for a friend of mine flying Young Eagle flights.

    It began for me by approaching from the north with runway 17 as the active. I overflew the airport @ 1500'+ feet over pattern altitude in order to fly approximately 5 miles south of the airport in order to turn around and come back and work my way in to a left downwind for 17. There were 8-10 planes in the pattern or near the airport at the time. I purposely chose NOT to do a straight in or to enter the downwind from a circling / 45 degree approach because of the several airplanes already on downwind. Better to fly well past the airport and come back and try for a straight entry into a left downwind.

    In order to make a long story short, it took me three attempts to go from downwind to base because of several airplanes attempting to break into the downwind at pattern altitude on 45 degree entries from either abeam the 35 numbers or even at mid field. Most were not even making any calls - just attempting to fly into the downwind leg. I broke off two downwind legs at mid field and on my third attempt finally made it to a base leg and landed, even though I had someone come in right behind me on base and try to enter the pattern at that point. I watched him closely (on my panel and saw him exit the pattern) and made it to final and finally landed.

    A friend of mine flying Young Eagles had a Comanche landing gear suddenly appear in his windscreen about 400' above the ground on short final to land. He diverted quickly to the right (he could not climb or descend for obvious reasons) and narrowly missed being killed and having two youngsters go down with him.

    After he finally landed, he confronted the Comanche pilot who matter of factly stated that since he was approaching from the north he simply decided to make a straight in approach. That makes great sense when there are no other airplanes in the pattern. But when there is a fly-in and obviously several planes on downwind, base, and final, you just don't do a straight in approach to a non-towered field hosting a well attended fly in.

    I just got back from a fly-in in Fredricksburg and did not notice problems like this one.

    I emailed the airport manager and suggested that next year they publish a fly-in approach and traffic pattern in a NOTAM similar to what I have seen at other fly-ins.

    Is this common at these fly-ins? I don't attend very many (Oshkosh every year but obviously that is controlled and well managed) but I was just amazed at how many pilots did NOT make any calls in the pattern and how many were just intent on "cutting" into the pattern in whatever way best served their interest. Maybe I just need to limit myself to larger fly-ins that have published approaches - but maybe this was just a bad day?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  2. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Whats a "Commanche?"
     
  3. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My brother attended a fly-in in Ranger, TX yesterday and said the same thing. Way too many planes, too many different types and no standardized entry. Good to hear GA is alive and well in TX though.
     
  4. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Stephen,

    Glad everyone made it in ok. Why in this day and age, at a busy fly in, pilots don’t use a radio. How hard is to use a handheld if nothing in their panel.

    It gets crazy busy here at the beach but thankfully pilots play nice. We even have meat missiles all day with a jump plane fitting in the mix.
     
  5. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    How wide of a pattern were you flying?

    Can’t recall ever having a hard enough of a time landing to ask a airport manager to tell other pilots how to fly
     
  6. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I’ve been to fly-ins, and honest, there are a whole class of pilots, myself included, that generally avoid fly-in chaos. Too many people behaving unpredictably and with disregard for wisdom.
     
  7. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I generally avoid the local fly-ins now, after too many close calls with NORDO pilots in fast planes trying to do straight ins when the pattern is busy. If I am going to one I get in early, before it gets crazy. Besides, the coffee is still hot when you get there first. ;)

    A Chinese knock-off of the original Piper? :rolleyes:
     
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  8. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A twin Comanche? :cool:
     
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  9. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Gary - I understand no radio if you are in an airplane that does not have one. But these were planes that obviously had radios.

    I have been to a few of these things over the years (small ones, not the "big" nationwide ones) and I guess I was just a little naive over how little regard to safety or professionalism that some pilots have.
     
  10. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In this case the Airport Manager was the organizer of the fly-in. I don't really know if that is the correct hierarchy to take it to, but since he was the "leader" of the fly-in I figured I would start with him. I can assure you that several other pilots went to him also.
     
  11. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    I like fly ins. Straight in's at fly in's drive me nuts. The last one I was at went like this:

    "Anyown traffic, dipsh!t 34 alpha 5 mile straight in runway niner, Anytown"

    (Unknow pilot) "Fly the damn pattern like everyone else"

    ...crickets and mic clicks :)
     
  12. geezer

    geezer Pre-Flight

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    You should have taped a note next to the Comanche fuel cap saying " I p***ed straight in your tank, it was the closest place to go". The question of whether you had really done so would have caused some mental anguish. Perhaps even thought on straight in with a busy pattern.
     
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  13. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some people don’t think fly ins be like they be
     
  14. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    The primary reason I'm on a couple Facebook Aviation groups is to know where the local fly-ins are and make sure I don't accidentally end up at one.
     
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  15. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    Don't neglect the possibility that there were pilots in the pattern using the wrong CTAF. A few years a go we had a visitor in a C172 create chaos in a busy pattern with multiple trainees, local pilots, arrivals, and practice IFR approaches. This aircraft blithely entered the pattern, cutting off aircraft as he did multiple touch and goes. No one could raise him, and I'm not convinced he saw anyone else in the pattern, gauging by his actions. Planes started landing or vacating the area to get out of his way. After a few circuits, he finally landed to get fuel. I landed in a little after him (having to make one go around after being cut off on final) and politely asked him to please use his radio next time as a courtesy to other pilots. He swore up and down he was reporting his position--on the wrong CTAF. (You mean your CTAF is not 122.8?) I informed him of the correct CTAF, and suggested he could find the correct CTAF for himself on a map (or mapping app), but he replied that he didn't have any maps (or mapping apps) on board. When I suggested he could buy a sectional map at the counter, he left in a huff. He did not make any calls (or use the correct frequency) on departure, either. Sigh. I don't understand such folks.
     
  16. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I would like to feel your pain, but I can't make out what you're saying here.

    What is a "circling / 45 degree approach"?

    What is a "straight entry into a left downwind"?

    It's best to approach the downwind on a 45 at midfield from the outside of the pattern, just like the AIM states, when it's busy. It sounds like (I could be mistaken) you favored a non-standard entry yourself while bemoaning others for the same thing.
     
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  17. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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  18. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Well, it sounds like he made a "circular approach" to me. His heading on landing was the same as his heading approaching the field, i.e., "circular". The so-called preferred method you cite is dubbed a "270° entry" to the downwind by most pilots, although I have sometimes called it the "ampersand entry". :)

    A "straight entry" to the downwind sounds like the standard AIM entry midfield, but he said he opted not to enter on a 45. So, I'm thinking he lined up with downwind like they do in Canada. That's good for Canadians because they don't allow the 45 entry to downwind at the same airports unless there is a mandatory radio requirement there. Not good for USA where the standard is 45 to downwind. A few years ago there was a midair in California at Corona Airport where a 172 did that and killed everyone aboard it and a 150 climbing on crosswind, IIRC.
     
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  19. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What I meant was that there was no opening for a 45 degree entry to a downwind anywhere near the field. There was a solid line of planes on a left downwind. The reason for the long line of downwind planes was that the Young Eagle flights were being routed to a waypoint four miles south of the field and then brought back on a long straight downwind back to the field. There were 6-8 of those planes constantly in the pattern and then the fly-in traffic also. There was no way for anyone to break in to the downwind on a 45 anywhere near the field.

    I was not aware of the Young Eagle routing until after I landed. However, from seeing the traffic on my panel as well as visually, I knew that there was no way to enter the pattern by overflying the field and then coming back in on a 45 degree entry from the downwind side. I could see from the traffic that there was a long line forming south of the field for a long left downwind entry into the pattern.

    I have been flying a long time and have seen my fill of hijinks in the pattern, but what I saw yesterday was beyond compare. And a straight entry into an event like this while "legal" was idiotic and almost cost some kids their lives.
     
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  20. JoeSelch

    JoeSelch Pattern Altitude

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    So ... it wasn't just a fly-in, but a fly-in held in conjunction with a Young Eagle event.
    Yeah, that's a s-show I'd rather avoid.
     
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  21. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Got it now! You did the best you could under the circumstances and that's all we can ever hope to achieve. Good advice you gave 'em for the next one. What are you using for a fish finder?
     
  22. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In the pattern looking at the panel vs out the window....fail
     
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  23. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Where did I say I was not looking out of the window? Without looking at the panel, how else can you determine traffic in a 10 mile radius of the airport?

    I think I finally get it - you were one of the ones in the pattern.
     
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  24. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Garmin GTN 750 with a GTX 345. Very easy to see the whole traffic situation with this set up.

    I have to say, since I got my PPL in 1981, I really have come to embrace the new technology that we have now. I do not fondly remember "the good old days" other than the fact that it was fun being 17 years old!
     
  25. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Using the panel to get a good overview of the entire traffic picture, including all the planes more than 2 miles away (which are basically impossible to see unless you are lying to yourself) = success in this case. He didn’t crash or cause any incidents.
     
  26. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don’t care about 172/pa28 traffic 10 miles away lol

    And probably, I’ve flown into a few flyins, just keep your head on a swivel make a few clear radio calls and LISTEN, most folks just talk, don’t make a call for every damn thing, keep the pattern TIGHT, and it’s not that big of a deal IMO.

    I’ve found folks who did most of their training and super quiet airports or controlled airports seems to get mentally ramped up at a busy non towered field.
     
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  27. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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  28. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    upload_2019-10-6_18-9-44.png
     
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  29. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Sounds like you have experienced Reklaw first hand
     
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  30. Art Rose

    Art Rose Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yep, took the words right out of my mouth....... especially the swivel head, and the keep it tight part. Learn to fly your plane (for real), listen, keep your head on a swivel, keep it tight, and unless you're flying a really fast machine, keep your irritating "I'm 10 miles out" radio clutter to yourself. If you can't handle a little close in congestion and confusion, you probably need to avoid these type of gatherings.
     
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  31. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-Flight

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    Fly ins are a ****show. I don’t even bother now unless I’m driving.
     
  32. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You guys having panic attacks over fly ins ain’t helping GA ya know ;)
     
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  33. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    My bad. I thought the entry (right 270 teardrop) on the left in that figure was introduced the time of the document (March 2018)
     
  34. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    I like fly ins. I always tell myself if I get overloaded just abort.
     
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  35. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I've got AIMs going back to the "Airman's Guide". That drawing has never been in there. It was lifted verbatim from an AOPA Air Safety Foundation article. It's not the result of any study, just somebody's personal opinion become dogma. There's newbies like you working for the FAA nowadays, so I guess one of them thought it was a good idea and had the authority to make it official. Note that the NTSB found the cause of the midair at Plano McKinney, TX was due to the "Alternate Entry" in the Advisory Circular. There will be more to come, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  36. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    I do fly in patterns fast and tight. I’ll abort if someone jumps in front of me, otherwise I’m coming in HOT! I’m also loud, clear and concise on the radio, helps me assert my authority!
     
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  37. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Yeah. Much better to have a panic attack over who can see your tail number with ADS-B. :D
     
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  38. Squirrelfury

    Squirrelfury Filing Flight Plan

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    I, too, was at the Ranger fly-in yesterday, and wasn't that upset. Through their airport website, Facebook postings, and direct E-mailing, the fly-in organizer had suggested some special traffic pattern etiquette and abbreviated position reporting phraseology to accommodate the expected high traffic flow. There had to be well over a hundred aircraft on the field by noon, ranging from antique biplanes to light twins, helicopters, and De Havilland Beavers.

    Every other pilot that I spoke to thought that the participants had done a pretty credible job of making the busy pattern work. By and large, people looked, talked, and yielded right-of-way when necessary in order to make things work. I had to make two attempts to land, since the base-to-final pattern got a little too jammed-up for my taste during the first attempt. But I was happy to try again, because -- like was said, it WAS "... good to hear GA is alive and well in TX".

    I wonder if this isn't the cause of a lot of the complaints.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  39. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I was flying for work yesterday so I couldn’t go to Ranger and frankly I would like to go to the Ranger Fly-In. I’m fine with uncontrollable fields, but 5 min of scary chaos can make you rethink anything, and some kinds of fly-ins in particular seem to attract less-predictable pilots.
    It’s also pretty similar to traffic jams. A lack of situational awareness, willingness to be flexible, and courteous. So what if you let the car in front of you merge? It’s gonna cost you less than 10 seconds. Even if the other guy was wrong, work it out.
     
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  40. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    I don't know about AIMs, but here it is in the 2016 AFM, and it's been there longer than that. Screenshot_20191006-211644_Drive.jpg
     
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