Home Forums Safety More Approach Pattern Stuff Reply To: More Approach Pattern Stuff

John Benario
General Member

It is a shame that something so basic to aviation safety as approach patterns requires so much debate.  Accident investigations try to determine why an accident happened so future ones can be prevented.  The “problem” with PG pilots cutting off HG pilots on final or PG kiting in the LZ isn’t the approaches or the kiting.  They are the result of the problem.  The “problem” is VFR pilots not following the two basic tenets of VFR: following established procedures and see and avoid.  I have been on final probably 20 seconds behind Tim, his glider is so bright it jumps out at you.  For 3 PG pilots to cut Tim off is astonishing. Equally astonishing is the two PG mid airing over Marshall some months back.  PGs are bright and slow moving.  Tim is bright and faster moving.  All should be easy to identify.  See and avoid.

The reason the PGs caused so much of an issue at Redlands airport was they did not follow the established procedure of the local traffic pattern.  No pilot can legally go to an uncontrolled airport and just decide not to follow the established pattern that is published in the AFD.  That is a good way to get a letter of investigation from the FAA.  If a CFI allowed a student to do that he would probably get his CFI suspended. (I understand the FAA has no jurisdiction over us, unlike certificated pilots)

While there are egregious HG pilots out, the current issues seem to be predominantly PG related.  Because of that, let us try to determine why these PG pilots are operating unsafely.  If a PG pilot cuts off a HG pilot on final or gets hit while kiting likely both pilots will be equally dead or injured so it is in all of our interests to make sure everyone is operating safely.

We, the club, need to determine why this portion of the PG community is operating unsafely and try to change the root cause so that everyone is safer.

An analysis of PG instruction vs HG instruction may be a good place to start as safety habits are predominantly gained while learning. I have experience as a student in helicopters, airplanes, and HG, and as an instructor and instrument instructor in helicopters, so I have experience from both sides.  There are definite differences in the instructional environment between HG and PG.

If the club wants to solve this issue and have everyone operate in a safer environment, then we should try to determine the root cause and work together to change it.