Local Residents

Frequently asked Questions

Why does the same aircraft keep flying round and round?

A significant part of pilot training involves learning to take-off and land. To practice this the pilot takes off, flies a rectangular pattern around the airfield and then lands before repeating the exercise. This is known as flying circuits.

Surely the pilot could vary the pattern that is flown round the circuit?

The rectangular pattern (illustrated above) is standard throughout the world. Introducing a local variation would compromise safety. When practising take-offs and landings the aircraft takes-off, climbs to 500ft above ground level (AGL) and then turns 90⁰ before climbing to 1,00ft (AGL) and making a further 90⁰ turn. It then flies parallel to the runway until the runway appears to be 45⁰ behind the aircraft. It then turns 90⁰ and descends before making a further 90⁰ turn to line up with the runway.

Sometimes the aircraft take-off going in the other direction. Why can’t they do this more often?

Aircraft take-off and land into wind so generally the tower staff has no choice over which direction to use. In calm winds they will try to vary the runway in use.

Why was a yellow and black helicopter circling over my house for over an hour last night?

If it was a yellow and black helicopter it was almost certainly a Police helicopter. Information may be available on www.surrey.police.uk.

It’s a lovely warm day with no wind. Why are the aircraft lower than normal?

Aircraft climb better on a cold day when the air is denser and therefore provides more lift, and also take less distance to climb when flying into wind.

Why do the aircraft pilots sometimes stop their engine shortly after take-off?

Pilots have to be trained how to react if an engine were to fail just after take-off. This is achieved by the instructor throttling back the engine to low power, which due to the greatly reduced power and noise can sound as if the engine has stopped. When the instructor has confirmed that the student has reacted correctly power is returned to normal and the aircraft climbs into the circuit.

What would happen if the engine was actually to fail?

The aircraft would become a glider. The pilot would turn towards an open area and carry out a forced landing. The pilot would of course be doing all that is possible to avoid obstacles if for no other reason than self-preservation.

Why can’t the aircraft fly higher?

Fairoaks is located within the airspace assigned to Heathrow, and also adjacent to the instrument approach path to Farnborough. This imposes an absolute limit of 1,500ft above sea level for aircraft flying in the vicinity of Fairoaks. Aircraft flying in the circuit require to be below this level to ensure that they do not come into conflict with aircraft joining the circuit.

Why are the large airliners from Heathrow quieter than the small aircraft that fly at Fairoaks?

They are actually a lot noisier; however when thy fly over Fairoaks they are at least 3,000ft above sea level therefore they sound a lot quieter to those on the ground.

I occasionally see something flying at Fairoaks that looks like “Little Nellie” from the Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”. What is it?

Like Little Nellie it is a gyrocopter, but without the added features provided by Q! Gyrocopters are relatively rare but there are two based at Fairoaks.