I read your column rejecting the idea of a rounded base turn VFR traffic pattern (Pattern Ops Revisited by Harold Green, Midwest Flyer Magazine, June/July 2018). Initially, I was also skeptical of the benefits of adopting such a pattern for GA operations. However, a limited study conducted by AOPA/ASI and the University of North Dakota revealed there may be benefit to such a pattern. More consistent speed control, reduced variation in bank, and more consistent alignment on final are a few of the advantages that seemed likely with such a pattern. There’s not enough data and the study was incomplete, but the research revealed that it’s worth investigating. ASI is currently in search of someone to help us fund a complete study. We’ll keep you (and the GA industry) posted on our progress and our results.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Prior to accepting the executive director position with the AOPA Air Safety Institute, Mr. McSpadden was the Commander and Flight Leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, 2002/2003, an F-15 Instructor, Examiner, and Mission Commander with 150 combat hours. Additionally, Mr. McSpadden has been a general aviation pilot for 35 years, holds CFII and MEI flight instructor certificates, and is Cessna Citation CE-525S type rated.
Thank you first of all for taking the time to read my column, and secondly, for your response. I am certainly open to revising my opinion based on actual data, and if further studies support the rounded base turn, I will support it and I hope that those studies happen.
However, my big concerns at this point are as follows: 1) A continuous turn blocks the view of other traffic in the pattern regardless if the aircraft is high or low wing. That, to me, is a big concern at airports like C29 (Middleton Municipal Airport – Morey Field, Middleton, Wisconsin) where we have a wide variety of aircraft performance and pilot capability, coupled with no control tower. 2) It is my opinion that the squared pattern allows a more accurate assessment of wind conditions by the pilot. It is also my opinion that training emphasis on coordinated flight, awareness of one’s ground path, and attitude and airspeed control would provide far more benefit.
Again, thank you for your feedback. I hope to read about further studies as they occur.
Harold Green, CFII
Midwest Flyer Magazine
I’m not sure where the data will lead us, but it should be an interesting study. I share some of your concerns. A boss once advised me: don’t use data like a drunk uses a lamp post – for support, rather than for illumination! So, we will try to follow what the data illuminates. I’ll keep you posted!
Richard G. McSpadden Jr.