Let's stop using two right angle turns from downwind to final. Instead, let's make a gentle turn of 180 degrees from downwind to final using 20-30 degrees of bank. This method: * Maintains good visibility for high and low wing aircraft, * Makes it easy to adjust for cross winds by varying from 20 to 30 degrees, and * Maintains stall speed increase to less than 7% of normal straight and level stall speed.
IN 1996, THREE FATALITIES OCCURRED AT SUN 'N FUN WHILE FLYING LOW AND SLOW WITH A STEEP BANK IN THE LANDING PATTERN. A 180 DEGREE TURN FROM DOWNWIND TO FINAL WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THE DEATHS.
Higher pattern altitudes and pilots over-extending the downwind and base legs are increasing risks for pilots, passengers, and people on the ground. Two causes are: 1) Instructors fail to train students to fly close patterns, and 2) New, higher pattern altitudes require earlier power reductions or longer glide paths. Proper training will save lives, especially when flying "low and slow".
The method is simple and easy. Remain within 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the runway on downwind. Cut power, lower landing gear, and add partial flaps when even with the numbers. At 45 degrees past the numbers, enter a 20 to 30 degree bank (wind factor) and roll out on final. Eliminate the 90 degree turn to base followed by another 90 degree turn to final while flying "low and slow". Do the check list while on downwind and touch down 100-200 feet past the numbers.
The British navy developed this method to land Corsairs on carriers during World War II. The Corsair pilot sat far behind the nose, which blocked his view during landing. Later, the American Navy adopted the system. The following table and diagram (For a hypothetical aircraft) may clarify the key factors.
|Bank Angle||Stall Speed Increase||Stall in Knots|
Fly downwind 1/2 to 3/4 mile from runway. At 45 Degrees past numbers, turn! Make a 20 - 30 degree banking turn to final.