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This seems like an strange title doesn’t it.  Two years ago I may have said the same thing, but today what I’m about to show provide is common place in both my flying and my teaching.

As a young aspiring student I was taught prior to solo that the proper way to cross a non-controlled airport at the mid-field entry was to cross over the runway you desire to land on, at pattern altitude. You would then glance at the windsock to check your winds, turn 90 degrees and enter the down-wind leg at the mid point of the runway.

I flew this procedure for my first 250hrs of flying.  Granted, I never had any issue and never had a single close call.

Fast forward and I am now a CFII teaching the same thing I had been taught.  After all, it had always worked perfectly and it was a standard practice by all the Pilots I knew and admired.

I was out flying with a young student around the 500hr mark and the student suggest that there was a new way of thinking about this entry as prescribed by the Air Safety Institute.

I quickly stated that the entry of 90 to downwind was a well accepted and taught practice but that I’d be interested in hearing about this new procedure he spoke of.

He proceeded to tell me that the next time around we would want to cross 500f above turbine Pattern altitude which would put us at 2,000ft above the field.  This seemed interesting and somewhat overblown.. I mean do I really need and extra 1,000 ft above the pattern altitude?  Oh and isn’t descending into the pattern altitude a bad idea? (for the record it is).

To further explain.

Because large and turbine aircraft fly 1,500-foot-agl patterns, crossing 500 feet above the single-engine pattern altitude might just place you in line with a King Air. so moving up to 2,000 feet agl is a safer crossing altitude in this case.

Crossing the mid-field at 2,000 ft and then extending 2 miles out, making a descending outbound and turn of 270 opposite he direction of downwind.

how-to-properly-enter-the-down-wind-mid-field-leg-of-an-aiport
This does a couple of things for us: 1) we get out of traffic both single and turbine in a critical location to the field. 2) We start the descent well past the down-wind leg and by making the opposite direction turn of the pattern it allows other aircraft to see our wings.  It also sets us up for the best possible entry of a 45 degree entry to the down wind leg.
I now use this procedure any time I have traffic in the pattern or I have any concern about other planes I can not locate.  I don’t use this procedures exclusively, simply because if there is no traffic or very visible traffic the need is not as prominent.
I also teach both methods to my students as it’s a good procedure and very good knowledge in critical thinking as a pilot.
Here it he full article from the Aviation Safety Institute
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