Exercise 17 – The Circuit

It is recommended that when practicing circuits the student be shown a full complete circuit from take-off to landing. The method on how the circuit is flown will vary on aircraft type and local procedures. Consult these procedures and using the following items as a reference list when teaching the circuit.


  • Complete post take off checklist
  • Emphasize tracking center line, turning and looking to confirm
  • Select a landmark prior to turning


  • Continue climb at Vy, max 15° AOB
  • Track 90° to runway and make sure spacing is good
  • Level off at circuit altitude
  • Set cruise power and trim the aircraft
  • If possible, select a landmark prior to turning downwind


  • Turn at selected point and make radio call if in uncontrolled airspace
  • Track parallel to runway and maintain correct spacing
  • Use the strut or wing as an aid to spacing (2/3 is normally ok)
  • Begin pre-landing checklist as soon as able
  • Complete passenger safety review and landing briefing
  • If in a control zone, a radio call is normally made abeam the threshold
  • Turn base at 45°


  • Tracking perpendicular to runway
  • Beginning to have approach flap and approach speed
  • Confirm aircraft spacing
  • As the aircraft gets closer to the runway, focus shifts to Altitude (Slope) and Airspeed
  • Make radio call on final at uncontrolled airprot


Communication Failure

  • If applicable, consider squawking 7600
  • Continue flying a normal circuit maintaining a good lookout
  • If at a controlled airport, look for the correct light gun signal

Runway Change

  • Use airport diagram as reference
  • Ask controller for assistance if needed
  • Reference runway headings to aircraft compass

Special VFR

  • Only available to licensed pilots
  • Only available in control zones (including Class E CZ)
  • Can be given by Tower, FSS or enroute controllers (Arrival, Terminal, CTR)
  • Review minimum weather for SVFR

Engine Failure

  • Control aircraft and complete immediate actions
  • Normally changing fuel tank, carb heat on and trimming for best glide
  • Look for suitable runway or landing surface
  • Contact ATC is possible

All of this information on pilot training and flight training in Canada is also available at www.myflighttraining.ca.