Ask a CFI – traffic pattern departures
What’s the correct way to depart the traffic pattern at a non-towered airport?
The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) offers two options for departing a non-towered airport traffic pattern – either straight out or a 45 degree ground track in the same direction as the traffic pattern (left if operating in a left-hand traffic pattern or right if operating in a right-hand traffic pattern) after reaching traffic patter altitude (1,000 AGL standard).
It’s advisable to then climb at least 500’ above the traffic pattern altitude before turning on course and remain vigilant for other traffic that may be approaching.
If remaining in the traffic pattern, a turn to crosswind may begin at 3,00 feet below traffic pattern altitude.
Reference: AIM Paragraph 4-3-3 (Traffic Patterns).
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