Traffic Patterns Part 6: Wind

Wind can have a large effect on the traffic pattern, especially when it comes to the base and final leg.

You should familiarize yourself with the current wind at the airport before takeoff and when preparing to enter the pattern. Remember that the wind report you get from an automated station is on the surface and may not be as strong as the wind at pattern altitude.

When flying each leg around the pattern think about whether the wind is coming from your left or right and crab towards it to fly a straight track. When preparing to land look at the crosswind and what it will do to your base leg.

If you expect to have a tailwind on base you will need to turn final sooner in order to not overshoot the runway. Conversely, if you experience a headwind on base you can expect to have more time before you need to turn final. More time also means more time to descend, so adjust you glidepath and consider adding some power.

On final, if you face a strong headwind component you will again have more time to descend and may need more power to make it to the runway.

Plan in advance so you know what to expect in each leg of the pattern.