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Airport Legs

Jamie4590 Guest

This might sound a stupid question but I'm a little confused with the different legs flown when vectoring an airport. Does the cross wind leg and the down wind leg change depending on the wind direction at the airport or are they always the same at every airport regardless of the wind direction? Surly if the wind direction was in a certain direction the down wind leg would infact be the cross wind leg etc.

5 Responses

Pro Member Captain
Kareem El-Sadi (crosscheck9) Captain

The 'legs' your speaking about are what make up the traffic pattern.

After departure, when your still on r/w heading, its called upwind. When you turn to 90 degrees in either direction of the r/w after departure, that is called crosswind. When your parallel to the r/w, that is downwind. When your 90 degrees away from r/w heading, its called base, and finally, r/w heading for landing is called final. As far as I know, it has nothing to do with the winds 😉

Pro Member Chief Captain
CRJCapt Chief Captain

As stated above, the legs that you're talking about are legs of the standard VFR traffic pattern. The pattern can be left or right but doesn't change with the wind. The pattern is ground track not heading based.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_pattern

Vectors or more accurately, Radar vectors are simply magnetic headings given to the pilot to fly for the purpose of navigation, traffic separation or terrain separation. 🙂

Guest Ed Guest

crosscheck9 wrote:

As far as I know, it has nothing to do with the winds 😉

What it has to do with winds is this: ATC will attempt to have you take off and land INTO the wind. If there is a choice of runways and all else being equal (runway length, etc.) they will give you a runway for takeoff and landing where you are flying into the wind, because that way you get maximum lift for minimum speed and fuel use. If the airport is not controlled, of course, you make that choice for yourself, and you would want to fly into the wind on takeoff and final.

Of course, the wind won't be perfectly aligned with the runway most of the time, but in general, when you're on the downwind leg you are flying "down" (with) the wind, and when you turn to final you're flying "up" (against) the wind.

Ed

Pro Member First Officer
earthqu8kes First Officer

Jamie4590 wrote:

This might sound a stupid question but I'm a little confused with the different legs flown when vectoring an airport. Does the cross wind leg and the down wind leg change depending on the wind direction at the airport or are they always the same at every airport regardless of the wind direction? Surly if the wind direction was in a certain direction the down wind leg would infact be the cross wind leg etc.

first of all there are no stupid questions here at flyaway. 🙂 second of all, the topic.
the legs of a traffic patrtern are upwind, crosswind, downwind and final. if you put 4 pencils down on a table in a square with the points touching the eraser othe pecil next to it this will be easier to understand. one of them is the runway.after you takeoff from the runway you are on the upwind or the first pencil pointing up. then you turn either left or right 90 degrees depending on the traffic pattern at the airport( lets say its a left raffic pattern ). once you make this turn you are on the crosswind or the second pencil left. then you turn the same direction 90 degrees again a bit later. make this turn and you are now on the downwind or the pencil pointing down. next you turn onto the base leg of the pattern. the base leg is the pencil pointing right. then you turn onto final which is the pencil pointing up; thesame direction as the runway, then you land.
no the direction of wind does not effect the legs of the pattern. usually the airports runwa is placed the same heading as the prevailing wind in the area. so upwindis into the wind. crosswind is with a crosswind... 😉 ... downwind is going in the same heading as the wind...basebeing another crosswind but flying the opposite heading..and final flying into the wind. 🙂 i hope this helps... 😀

Pro Member Captain
Kareem El-Sadi (crosscheck9) Captain

Guest Ed wrote:

crosscheck9 wrote:

As far as I know, it has nothing to do with the winds 😉

What it has to do with winds is this: ATC will attempt to have you take off and land INTO the wind. If there is a choice of runways and all else being equal (runway length, etc.) they will give you a runway for takeoff and landing where you are flying into the wind, because that way you get maximum lift for minimum speed and fuel use. If the airport is not controlled, of course, you make that choice for yourself, and you would want to fly into the wind on takeoff and final.

Of course, the wind won't be perfectly aligned with the runway most of the time, but in general, when you're on the downwind leg you are flying "down" (with) the wind, and when you turn to final you're flying "up" (against) the wind.

Ed

Thanks Ed 😉

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