When to Make Position Reports in an Uncontrolled Airport Traffic Pattern

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Radar Contact is back! In the first show after a months-long break, we’ll talk about when to make position reports in an uncontrolled pattern. You may think you already know the answer, but if you look at the confusing mess in the Aeronautical Information Manual, your confidence may be shaken. No matter. I’ll give you the definitive when, how, and why of position reports.

Now that's a wing flash.

Now that’s a wing flash.


Are you in the market for an aviation headset? Do you have a headset you love, or one you hate with a passion? In this show, we are going to talk about headsets, and specifically headsets that cost less than $300. Is it possible to find a quality headset at this price? We’ll find out.

My latest book, Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots is now available at Amazon.com. I’ll tell you what you can expect to find in the book and help you decide if it’s right for you.

All this plus your Question of the Week.

As Bluto said in ‘Animal House’, “Hey! What’s all this laying around stuff?” It’s time for a brand new edition of Radar Contact! “Let’s do it!”

Show Notes:

  1. If you look in Table 4-1-1 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) it says to “report entering downwind, base, and final approach” in an uncontrolled airport traffic pattern.
  2. The text in AIM 4-1-9 h. Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers says “Report on downwind, base, and final approach.”
  3. Even though the table says to “report entering” and the text says to report “on”, I strongly recommend following the guidance in the table, not the text.
  4. When you roll into a turn as you enter a leg of the traffic pattern to the next leg, the roll into a bank creates “wing flash”.
  5. Wing flash happens when the tops of your wings reflect sunlight towards an observer. Wing flash draws attention to your aircraft.
  6. By transmitting your position report as you flash your wings in a turn, you give other pilots in the traffic pattern the best chance of spotting your aircraft and identifying your position.
  7. Example position reports:

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering downwind for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering base for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering final for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

  8. If you are entering the traffic pattern at the midfield downwind entry point I recommend, as a technique, saying,

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering a midfield downwind for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

What You’re Missing with an ADS-B In-Only Display

  1. If you are using ADS-B In but do not have ADS-B Out installed in your aircraft, you are not getting the full display of all traffic in your area.
  2. ADS-B Out transmits a separate data package that grants access to traffic data rebroadcast by ground-based ADS-B relay stations. Systems lacking ADS-B Out will not have access to traffic relayed from these stations.
  3. An ADS-B In-only unit is limited to displaying traffic flying within 15 nautical miles and plus or minus 3,500 vertical feet of your aircraft. This envelope of range is called the “puck”.
  4. You may be able to “borrow” traffic information from another aircraft flying within your puck if that aircraft has the full ADS-B In and Out suite.
  5. Of course, your ADS-B unit will not display traffic that is not equipped with ADS-B Out.
  6. All this means you cannot rely on your ADS-B In-only unit to display all of the traffic in your area. Keep your eyes outside and clear for traffic.

All About Aviation Headsets

  1. Is it possible to find a quality headset for less than $300 that provides comfort, good audio quality, and durability? I’ll need your help to answer that question.
  2. If you use a headset that cost you less than $300, please tell me about it.
  3. Use the list of questions below to guide you as you tell me about your headset. Use the comment section below these show notes to respond.

Get My Latest Book

  1. My latest book, Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots is now available at Amazon.com. *
  2. The book’s content was vetted by pilots, certified flight instructors, and air traffic controllers.
  3. To make it compelling and easy to understand, the content is presented in real-world scenarios. It’s a you-are-there approach to learning.

* I receive a small commission when you use this link to order from Amazon.com.

Your Question of the Week:

You are number 1, holding short of Runway 6, the active runway, at Petersburg Airport. Petersburg is an uncontrolled airport. You plan to depart VFR and your initial heading will be approximately 330 degrees. Here is your question: What would your next self-announce radio transmission be on UNICOM? Note: I’m looking for the specific words you would say, and when would you make that transmission.

When you think you know the answer to that question, go to ATCcommunication/answers. There you will find a complete answer as well as a full explanation of how that answer was derived.

Tell Me About Your Less-Than-$300 Headset

Use the comment section below to answer these questions. (Click the title of this article–top of page–to reveal the comment section.):

–What is the brand and model of your headset?

–What did your headset cost you?

–Is your headset comfortable?
(If your headset is not comfortable, where does it hurt and how long after you put it on does it start hurting?)

–Rate the audio quality of your headset?

–Has your headset held up well, or did it seem to deteriorate/break sooner than you expected?

–Does your headset have any special features–music hookup, separate audio control, etc.–that you like?

Thank you for answering these questions in the comment section below. If I get enough data from this survey, I’ll make it a permanent feature of the website.

41 episodes available. A new episode about every 44 days averaging 21 mins duration .