Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

It is very important to note 14 CFR part 91 requires powered parachutes to avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft. Additional information on airport operations can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Airport Traffic Patterns and Operations

Every flight begins and ends at an airport; an airport, as defined by the Federal Aviation Regulations, is an area of land or water that is used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft. For this reason, it is essential you learn the traffic rules, procedures, and patterns that may be in use at various airports.

Most aviation accidents occur within a few miles of the airport. This is where congestion is the heaviest and the pilot is the busiest.

“See and avoid” is critical for safe operations. Advisories on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) are essential at nontower-controlled airports and flying fields to advise other aircraft of your position and intentions.

To enhance safety around airports, specific traffic patterns and traffic control procedures have been established at airports. The traffic patterns provide specific routes for takeoffs, departures, arrivals, and landings. The exact nature of each airport traffic pattern is dependent on the runway in use, wind conditions, obstructions, and other factors.

Different traffic patterns at the same airport may be established for heavy aircraft, general aviation aircraft, gliders and light-sport aircraft (LSA) operations. The largest factor in determining the proper traffic pattern is airspeed. Slow aircraft do not mix well with fast aircraft. The powered parachute is at the slow end of the speed range of aircraft found around most airports. Regardless of the traffic pattern flown, you must be aware of your position relative to other aircraft in the traffic pattern and avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft. Helicopters fall under this same rule. This rule frequently affects the choice for a landing site. Refer to Chapter 5 for more information on selecting a landing site and airport operation information.

With that in mind, you must understand the standard airport traffic pattern in use at the airport you are operating at and the traffic pattern you are flying to maintain separation from other aircraft traffic.

Powered parachutes operate best from a grass surface, due to less wear and tear on the canopy. However, off-runway operation may disrupt normal airport operations and may not be safe for the PPC due to poor surface conditions. If an off-runway area is used for PPC operations, examine the area for surface condition, holes, standing water, rocks, vegetation height, moguls, fences, wires and other hazards.

A traffic pattern may be established for an off-runway operating area. The traffic pattern may not, and probably will not, conform to the airplane traffic pattern. It is still your responsibility to avoid the flow of airplane traffic.

If you elect to use the airport runway, take into consideration any crosswind that may be present. The airport runway may not be aligned close enough into the wind for your flying skills or may exceed the canopy limitations.

The established powered parachute traffic pattern for an airport might be similar to the standard traffic pattern or it might use turns in the opposite direction. [Figure 10-1] In both cases, use a standard rectangular pattern with a pattern altitude one-half the airplane traffic pattern altitude or as published (if published). An airport may also use a smaller pattern, referred to as a “tight pattern” or “inside pattern,” and it might be in the same direction as the other traffic or opposite. This smaller pattern combined with a pattern altitude of one-half the airport traffic pattern helps ensure separation from aircraft flying much faster. It is important to review the Airport/Facilities Directory (A/FD) and understand the procedures used at each airport you will be operating at.

Airports vary in complexity from small, private grass or sod strips to public major terminals having many paved runways and taxiways. Regardless of the type of airport or field, you must know and abide by the rules and general operating procedures applicable to the airport being used. These rules and procedures are based not only on logic or common sense, but also on courtesy. The objective is to keep air traffic moving with maximum safety and efficiency. The use of any traffic pattern, service, or procedure does not alter the responsibility for you to see and avoid other aircraft.

Control towers and radar facilities provide a means of adjusting the flow of arriving and departing aircraft, and render assistance to pilots in busy terminal areas. You must be familiar with the communication requirements for operating at airports where you operate or indend to operate. [Figure 10-2]

Airport lighting, markings, and signs are used frequently to alert pilots to abnormal conditions and hazards, provide directions, and assist pilots in airport operations. It is essential you understand and adhere to the information provided by these indicators. [Figures 10-3 and 10-4]

 ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator