Audio Lesson #4: Is it Right to Say Right Downwind?

Today’s show answers a question, asked by a listener, about the proper terminology to use in an airport traffic pattern without an operating control tower.

From the Aeronautical Information Manual

Here is the question from Robin:

In a right-hand traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport, where pilots report their own position on Unicom, should I report “Right downwind,” or “Right base,” or is it okay to simply say “Downwind,” or “Base?”

Show Notes:

The answer begins with the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Chapter 4, Section 1-9, Traffic Advisory Procedures at Airports without Operating Control Towers.

“Report downwind/base/final as appropriate.” That’s not very specific.

For better guidance, look at the example in the AIM called Phraseology. There is no mention of “left downwind,”or “left base.” The AIM example simply says “ENTERING DOWNWIND/BASE/FINAL (as appropriate) FOR RUNWAY ONE NINER . . .”

Are you wrong to say “Right downwind?” I give my answer and reasoning in this audio lesson.

If you have comments or questions of your own, you can write them in the comments area below, or write directly to me at, or call our exclusive voicemail at 678-719-2823.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin March 17, 2011 at 4:41 am

Thanks for the answer! Now I know what I “need” to say and what I “can” say. Like you said, it depends on the situation. I’ll keep it in my “bag of tricks” if I think I need it.

tailwinds, Robin


JeffKanarish March 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

You’re welcome Robin. Glad to help.



Robin April 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

The AOPA agrees with you. See the “Safety Tips” on page 4 of this AOPA guide:


JeffKanarish April 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Score one for the home team! Thanks for the link, Robin!



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