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V-01: Pattern Work

Recommended aircraft: slow piston (Cessna Skyhawk, Piper Warrior)

This is the entry-level rating for the VFR pilot. This flight will consist of starting up at any towered field within ZLA, calling for taxi to the active, and requesting pattern work. For a list of towered airports, refer to the Class B, C and D airports listed in the ZLA Airports and Charts link in the reference material at the bottom of the page.

A minimum of three traffic patterns will be flown. Feel free to do full stop landings, low approaches, stop and go's, or touch and go's if cleared by ATC for the 'option.' ATC will be looking for prompt responses during communications, compliance with basic instructions, and adherence to standard traffic pattern altitudes and ground track.

Unless otherwise published, use a traffic pattern altitude of 1000FT AGL for single piston aircraft and 1500ft for twin, turboprop, or jet aircraft.

The John Wayne (KSNA) airport is the home of many of the subsequent ratings, so it's a good place to start, but if ATC is online elsewhere, feel free to use another airport. The traffic pattern altitudes for KSNA are as follows:

The airport diagram for KSNA is included in the Required Material section below, but can be ignored if you elect to do the rating elsewhere.

NOTE: KSNA runway 19L and runway 19R were renumbered to 20L/R late in 2014. Some of the reference material still contains references to 19L/R at KSNA. Use caution.

Some basics to remember:
  • do not connect to the network if you are positioned on a taxiway or runway. Ensure you are at the ramp, or another non-movement area

  • an instruction to taxi to a runway does not constitute permission to cross or enter that runway

  • depending on your type of aircraft and traffic levels, you may be assigned right traffic for rwy 20R, or left traffic for rwy 20L. Ensure you are confident with the direction of the traffic pattern prior to taking off. If you are unsure, ask the controller. He should include that information in the takeoff clearance. Check the ATC transcript below for an example.

  • new students have a tendency to fly a considerable distance from the field during the traffic pattern. Keep it tight!  Remember, turn crosswind a few hundred feet below pattern altitude.  Turn downwind once you reach pattern altitude. That makes for a SHORT crosswind leg. Controllers have reported pilots ending up on 2-4 mile finals, which is too far away for a typical GA aircraft.

Check out the reference material below and good luck!

Required Materials
KSNA Facility Chart

Related Materials
ATC Transcript
Transcript: Pattern Work at KSNA
Sample Transcript of pilot doing pattern work at KSNA
ZLA - External Link
Airport Traffic Patterns (Wikipedia)
Basic Tips for ZLA Pilots
ZLA Controller Peter Grey offers some basic tips for pilots flying within the Los Angeles ARTCC on VATSIM
Pattern work instructional video
Keith Smith flies a standard traffic pattern at KBFL with several other aircraft.
VATSIM Pilot Resource Center
ZLA Airports and Charts
ZLA - Instructional Video
Traffic Pattern Instructional Video
Brief overview of how to fly a GA traffic pattern
ZLA - Practical Test Standards
Practical Test Standards
list of requirements for all ratings
VFR Practical Test Standards
list of requirements for all VFR ratings
ZLA - Reference
How to Fly a Traffic Pattern
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Thomas on Apr 27, 13 17:00
I took my V1 flight test 48 hours ago and it is still not up. Please Help.

Carlton on Dec 23, 11 17:28
Just did my v-01 flight out of John Wayne. SoCal approach was helpful and reassured me at the end that I "did fine". Great experience.

Keith on Apr 29, 11 14:01
Quite right, Cliff, will make the change.

Cliff on Apr 29, 11 09:04
Basics bullet number 2 probably should be revised. Permission to cross each runway must be obtained before crossing, right? Reference: JO 7110.65T para. 3-7-2.c. and AIM paras. 4-3-18.a.5-7.

Ron on Oct 20, 09 12:52
Outstanding service from Mr. Ed Callan? uh, yeah. Here's the guy you wanna be tuned in to when you first begin your ZLA Ratings...
Ed broke me in on my V-01 and V-02. I told Ed upfront that I was real nervous and instantly he reassured me that I'd do fine. I felt like a kid takin' his first driver's exam! Ed's voice is calm and relaxed no matter how many of us are in the air. As Ed was examining me, he complimented me and gave me pointers for future flights...all the while controlling other pilots. Thanks for holdin' my hand Ed and granting me my first two ratings with ZLA!

ron N43598

Keith on Mar 26, 09 22:03
Most of the ratings have a specific departure and destination airport. The V-1 is more flexible, though, and can be done at any towered airport.

That said, pattern work at KLAX is generally discouraged due to the high volume of IFR departures and arrivals. I would recommend another towered airport within ZLA, unless LAX_TWR is the ONLY staffed position (ie. LAX_APP or LAX_CTR are offline).

David on Mar 26, 09 19:41
Can pilot rating be done at class B airports such as LAX?? For example, can V-01 be completed at LAX, or does it need to be done at a smaller class C, or D airport?

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