June 26, 2011

Circuits

Now that I've finished all my upper-air work, I've began working on circuits. I'm finding circuits very fun, there's a bit more stuff to remember, such as downwind checks and radio calls, and it's nice to stay in the control zone so that there's always things going on the radio :P

There are 5 legs to the circuit: Take-Off, Cross-Wind, Down-Wind, Base and Final/Landing. All turns will be 90 degrees in the circuit, and will all be either to the right or left, depending on the aerodrome, traffic and other factors (The controller or aerodrome traffic will let you know the direction). The take-off and cross-wind legs involve climbing up to circuit altitude, which is almost always 1000' above aerodrome height. The down-wind is at circuit height and is also where you do your checks before landing and make a radio call to the tower. You begin descending on base, and when you turn final you should be lined up with the runway centerline, coming in for landing.

Sample Circuit - Lefthand Runway 32, CYKF (Waterloo International)
Above is a diagram I've made for a circuit (Much neater than the one I had on my kneeboard :P). One thing to be aware of is that if the tower doesn't clear you to land, and you're really close to the threshold, you still have to pull up and go around again. Also, if you aren't feeling confident with your approach or landing, you can overshoot at any time, just add full power and pull up.  You don't have to get ATC clearance to do this, but make a call like this after you do: "Random Tower, Alpha Bravo Charlie is overshooting." ATC will then give you instructions after you complete your overshoot.

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