This is just a quick guide of the recommended and safest way to fly VFR into, out and around an uncontrolled Aerodrome. It provides a pilot with the best option for gaining situational awareness of the traffic situation at an aerodrome, with no air traffic control service, and to safely intergrate into the traffic pattern. It is a sound safe procedure to carry out which takes into account the Human Factors of airmanship and situational awareness.
1) First of all we will start with a VFR Arrival Procedure:
The best way to join a circuit pattern at an uncontrolled aerdrome is to make whats called a Standard Overhead Join (SOJ). The first step is to approach the airport from the traffic side at 1500ft Above Ground Level [AGL] (which is 500ft above the circuit height. This altitude is normally given in the aerodrome plates). Make a radio call, like the one in the diagram to state your intentions so other pilots know you are joining the circuit.
After this track towards the runways threshold you are going to land on, in this case runway 23. Once overhead make another radio call (refer diagram) and start descending to circuit height while flying in a curved path so that you track over the opposite runway's threshold. You should be at circuit height at this point so make sure you adjust your path in order to do so.
From here its a matter of joining the downwind leg and flying the circuit into land. Make sure you get a call when you are turning downwind and look out for other aircraft already in the downwind leg!
If you want to track from the non-traffic side then just start your procedure from the non-traffic side.
2) The Circuit
The circuit is usually flown at 1000ft above the aerodrome elevation. This will be given to you in the aerodrome plate, making life easier. Calls are usually made as follows:
"X Traffic, XYZ lining up Runway XX"
"X Traffic, XYZ rolling Runway XX, [follwed by your intentions]"
"X Traffic, XYZ downwind Runway XX [Touch & Go/Fullstop/Vacating to X via Y at XXXX feet]"
"X Traffic, XYZ finals Runway XX, Touch and Go/Fullstop"
Other than that its rather simple.
Departure is usually done by 3 accepted methods:
-> Climb straight away from the airport on Upwind and when well clear of the circuit make a turn to your destination.
-> Vacate from the downwind. Ie fly the circuit untill base where you just keep going straight and when clear of the circuit make a turn to your destination.
-> Depart overhead. This is the most common and sensible way of leaving an uncontrolled aerodrome. Fly the normal circuit until downwind where you can keep climbing above circuit height and track back over the middle of the runway and onwards to you destination. However a turn towards the runway should not be made untill you are above circuit height and watch out for aircraft arriving overhead.
Well that should hold you in good steed for safe operation at uncontrolled aerodromes.
The video below shows a good example of how to fly one. It was filmed at Kaitaia Aerodrome in New Zealand.
For more information see: http://www.caa.govt.nz/safety_info/posters/standard_overhead_join.pdf