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  • Traffic Pattern Question

    I have a question pertaining to using a parallel gravel runway and the pattern used for such runway. I will try to explain it as best as possible but it might still be a little confusing.

    When flying a small plane and using a gravel strip, at an airport such as Palmer (PAAQ) with a parallel gravel runway that is positioned approx. mid distance along the parallel paved runway, but no parallel operations are allowed, where should one begin their downwind to base turn? One source I have obtained information from (an unofficial, "official source," if you know what I mean), says that one should fly a pattern as if they were going to land on the paved runway and then, when on final, after passing the touchdown zone of the paved runway, one would then move over slightly to line up with the gravel runway to finish their approach. The main reasoning behind this is, if you are flying a standard pattern for the gravel runway you would be crossing over the final approach for the paved runway (even though there are no paralell ops) during your base leg for the gravel strip.

    Other sources (CFI's, Commercial Pilots, long time Alaskan Pilot's) say that you should fly a pattern for the intended runway (in this case the gravel strip). They state that the above mentioned method is unsafe.

    I haven't been able to find anything that addresses this in the FAR/AIM.

    I obviously have to much time on my hands. I am just trying to avoid any possible future issues with this, and I also wanted to give all you seasoned pilots something to do while you are at work.

  • #2
    Here is Homer there is a "gravel access road" along part of the main paved runway. They started calling it that some years back when they decided, (with the urging of some commercial carrier like ERA) that there no longer going to be any parallel runway operations.

    It is now used as a taxi way, (which it is not) and a gravel runway, (which we are continually reminded that it is not.)

    The way ours is laid out I just do a final as if I was going for the paved runway and then ease on over to line up on the much shorter gravel. It also seems to make the flight service people happy if my radio calls, (which are recorded) sound as if I am just landing on the pavement.

    If somebody else comes along, I just call back that I am clear of the pavement and taxiing back on the gravel.

    NOW IN THE CASE OF PALMER:

    That is a real runway 16S and 34S. The rules there say no SIMULTANEOUS parellel operations allowed. Use the CATF for squencing.
    They just do not want you landing at the same time as some guy over on the pavement next to you.

    They expect the pilots to work it out over the radio. So think about what happens if you are making you own little pattern suitable for your slow moving J-3 while other gals and guys are using the runway next to you for touch and goes with there C-172s.
    They won't be able to keep track of you and may not see you, since they will be looking in their pattern.

    (Think about the mid-air collision a couple months ago in Fairbanks where a C-152 and a C-182 both ended up on final without seeing each other. )

    If it gets crazy in the Palmer pattern, then head over to Big Lake or someplace else.

    We pilots have to be polite and police ourselves, or else some non-flying jerk with a clip board and a federal job will be doing it for us...
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    • #3
      Thanks for the info. I agree completely with you.

      If there are other planes in the pattern and I am doing touch and goes. I fly a general pattern for the paved runway, while letting the other pilots know of my intentions to land on the gravel strip. If I am the only one around, I will fly a pattern for the gravel strip.

      I just hope the other guy has a radio, and is using it.

      Do you have any more info on the Fairbanks incident? Or know where I can find some?

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      • #4
        Traffic Pattern

        I am a CFII/MEI. You should fly the pattern as was first described to you. You will find nothing in the AIM regarding your situation. The method decribed to you is the safest because you're not crossing flight paths. Be vigilant in your scan, raise those wings and look (highwing) and talk on the radio. Make your announcements, say your intentions. DO NOT say "any traffic please advise" it's just radio clutter and the AIM discourages that phrase. If I'm doing touch n goes with a student, I always state "for the option" in the case the touch n go is botched and we have to come to a full stop and taxi back. Other flyers will be aware that I might be coming to a full stop with the "option". Good Luck, have fun, and SCAN the sky.
        John

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        • #5
          The Fairbanks mid-air. I talked with one pilot and one guy who saw it from the ground. This report does not have everything in it so it does not make sense at first glance. Basically nobody saw each other until it was too late. Plus there was a turn in the wrong direction which caused the actual contact. But all this stuff happens in a few seconds so nobody gets in right every time. At least nobody was hurt.And this was at a TOWERED airport!




          NTSB Identification: ANC09LA011B
          14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
          Accident occurred Friday, November 14, 2008 in Fairbanks, AK
          Aircraft: CESSNA 182R, registration: N9772H
          Injuries: 2 Uninjured.


          This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
          On November 14, 2008, about 1533 Alaska Standard time, a Cessna 152, N47417, and a Cessna 182R, N9772H, collided in midair about .5 miles from the approach end of runway 19L at the Fairbanks International Airport, Fairbanks, Alaska. N47417 was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area instructional flight, and received minor damage. N9772H was being operated as CAP 5043, a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) VFR positioning flight, and sustained substantial damage. Both airplanes were operated under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The flight instructor and the student pilot aboard N47417, were not injured. The private pilot and the pilot rated passenger aboard N9772H, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

          Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel from the Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), reported that the Cessna 182R had been cleared by controllers at the Fairbanks Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) for landing on runway 19L, and was established on a long final approach. The Cessna 152 was on a right downwind traffic pattern for landing on runway 19L, and was number two for landing. The pilot of the Cessna 152 was told to extend his downwind pattern, and then to execute a right 360 degree turn to allow additional spacing between landing airplanes. The pilot of the Cessna 152 made a left 360 degree turn. The left wingtip of the Cessna 152 struck the rudder of the Cessna 182R. Both airplanes landed safely.

          During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on November 14, the flight instructor of the Cessna 152 reported that he was on a right downwind for landing, and the student pilot was at the controls. The flight instructor said that he was told to extend his downwind pattern, which he did as requested, and then turned base. The CAP Cessna 182R was "in sight," and he heard the CAP airplane being cleared for landing by ATCT. He turned final for landing, and about 300 feet agl, the nose of the CAP airplane appeared under his airplane. He applied full power and began a left climbing turn. The ATCT advised him to make a right 360 degree turn, but he was already in a left turn, and advised ATCT of his actions. He then asked the ATCT to visually check his landing gear as he flew past the tower, and was told everything looked O.K. He then entered right traffic and landed without further incident. After landing, he discovered the leading edge of the left wing was flattened and dented at the tip, and the wingtip fairing was cracked and broken.

          During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC, on November 17, the pilot ofthe Cessna 182R reported that he initially departed Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, to position the CAP airplane at Fairbanks. He did some touch and go landings at Fort Wainwright Air Base, Fairbanks, and then flew inbound for landing at Fairbanks International. He was given a straight-in landing for runway 19L, and was established on a long final approach. He heard the ATCT clear other airplanes as number two and three to land, and heard another pilot say that traffic was "in sight." During the landing approach, the pilot heard a "bang" and the airplane yawed, but he saw no other airplanes. He thought that the airplane had been struck by a bird, so he asked ATCT to visually check his landing gear. He was advised that all three gear were visible, so he completed the landing. After landing, he discovered that the top of the rudder had sustained denting, and the rudder cap was broken and missing. The pilot was under the impression that his airplane had been struck by a bird until FAA Fairbanks FSDO personnel arrived to begin their investigation.

          The Fairbanks ATCT issued a pilot deviation report for the Cessna 152. Further investigation of the accident is pending.

          At 1553, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Fairbanks was reporting, in part: Wind, calm; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, few at 10,000 feet, 20,000 feet scattered; temperature, -2 degrees F; dew point, -8 degrees F; altimeter, 29.84 inHg.
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          • #6
            FP,
            A little off topic here, but as you're the float guy out of Homer, I have a question that you're best suited to answer. What would be the best way to pick up a person, in my plane on floats, who flew into Homer on ERA? From the air it looks like the terminal is very close to a part of the lake but are there any rules prohibiting me from tying up on shore and walking over to the terminal to meet them?

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            • #7
              Grizzly 1

              Originally posted by jwilder View Post
              I am a CFII/MEI. You should fly the pattern as was first described to you. You will find nothing in the AIM regarding your situation. The method decribed to you is the safest because you're not crossing flight paths. Be vigilant in your scan, raise those wings and look (highwing) and talk on the radio. Make your announcements, say your intentions. DO NOT say "any traffic please advise" it's just radio clutter and the AIM discourages that phrase. If I'm doing touch n goes with a student, I always state "for the option" in the case the touch n go is botched and we have to come to a full stop and taxi back. Other flyers will be aware that I might be coming to a full stop with the "option". Good Luck, have fun, and SCAN the sky.
              John
              After 20,000 Alaska hours, I would be confused by the phrase, "for the option."

              Why not fly different patterns there? One right traffic and one left traffic. I don't see where that would cause any heartburn . . . . . or accidents, either.

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              • #8
                Mauler e-mail sent..
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                • #9
                  Agree with Grizzly

                  Originally posted by Grizzly 1 View Post
                  After 20,000 Alaska hours, I would be confused by the phrase, "for the option."

                  Why not fly different patterns there? One right traffic and one left traffic. I don't see where that would cause any heartburn . . . . . or accidents, either.
                  I agree with Grizzly.. it is logical to have Left and Right patterns with the smaller/slower stuff in a slightly tighter R-pattern for the grass/gravel. PAAQ is interesting because the pavement is 6,000' and the gravel or grass is about 1000' and (mid-field) after crossing the pavement pattern line.. not having patterns cross limits much of the potential of a small (no-radio) disappearing to a much faster (he could be no-radio too) aircraft. our goal should be to reduce the potential..

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