52 FIGHTER WING Introduction 1
Profile of a Mid-Air 2
Airspace Diagrams 3
Departure Procedures 4
VFR Arrival Patterns 5-6
VFR Tactical Arrivals 7-8
F-16 Simulated Flameout Pattern 9
IFR Radar Pattern 10
Do You See the Right Airfield 11-12
Mid-Air Collision and See and Avoid Tips:
Avoidance Fighter Size and Closure 13
Military Formations 14
MACA Pamphlet Scan Techniques 15
Military Aircraft Around Spangdahlem 16-17
Wake Turbulence 18
Contact Us 20
PROFILE OF A MID-AIR Airspace Diagrams
During a three-year study of midair collisions involving
civilian aircraft, the United States’ National Traffic Safety
Board (NTSB) determined that:
(1) The occupants of most midairs were on a pleasure flight
with no flight plan filed.
(2) Nearly all midair collisions occurred in VFR conditions
during weekend daylight hours.
(3) The majority of midairs were the result of a faster aircraft
overtaking and hitting a slower aircraft.
(4) No pilot is immune. Experience levels in the study
ranged from initial solo to the 15,000-hour veteran.
(5) The vast majority of midairs occurred at uncontrolled
airports below 3,000 feet.
(6) Enroute midairs occurred below 8,000 feet and within 25
miles of the airport.
(7) Flight instructors were onboard one of the aircraft in 37%
of the midairs.
Spangdahlem is Class D airspace, from surface to
3700’ MSL. Note Spangdahlem’s proximity and runway
alignment relative to Bitburg, only 5 nm to the
Departure Procedures Traffic Pattern for Runway 23
Military VFR departures are monitored by Spangdahlem
tower. Traffic generally leaves to the north (along the
IFR routing) or to the southeast (between Wittlich and
Trier/Foehren Flugplatz, or between Trier/Foehren
Flugplatz and Trier).
IFR traffic on departure generally climbs above 7000’
MSL within 10 nm of the airfield.
Military traffic enters the pattern for Runway 23 at
points Alpha and Lake. Pattern entry parameters are
300 knots and 2700’ MSL. Straight-in approaches drop
to 2200’, while flights to initial remain at 2700’. Traffic
reentering in the pattern is VFR and generally follows a
groundtrack around Wittlich by climbing to 2700’.
Traffic then descends back to 2700’.
Traffic Pattern for Runway 05 Tactical Arrivals
Military traffic enters the pattern for Runway 05 at point
Bravo. Pattern entry parameters are 300 knots and
2700’ MSL. Straight-in approaches drop to 2200’, while
flights to initial remain at 2700’. Traffic reentering in the
pattern is VFR and generally follows a groundtrack
around Trier-Foehren Flugplatz and then along the
Mosel at 2700’. The Thud recoveries are from a point 10 miles from
either runway. It consists of a steep, descending
Tactical Arrivals Continued F-16 Simulated Flameout Pattern
Note = Airspeed is 200 knots
Due to the steep descent and high angle of attack, F-
16 pilots have poor visibility under the nose of the jet.
The Rhino recoveries are initiated from a point 10 miles
from either runway. Aircraft remain between 8200’ and
9500’ MSL until within 3 nm, and then initiate a steep,
spiraling descent to short final.
Do You Really See the Airport?
Spangdahlem (ETAD) and Bitburg (EDRB) are located
only 5nm apart and the runways appear similar from a
distance. Do not rely solely on your instruments/GPS
or on your eyes to tell the two apart! In addition to
ensuring your GPS database is current and the correct
SA 3 destination is entered, make sure you have the correct
airport in sight by noticing the actual ground features
ETSB around the two airports.
Bitburg has a large community to the northwest of the
airport, but Spangdahlem only has small villages
scattered about it. There is also an autobahn located
about 1.5 nm off the north end of Spangdahlem.
Spangdahlem has taxiways and parking ramps on both
sides of the runway, but Bitburg only has them on the
north side of the runway.
Radar Services Available to You
Spangdahlem provides flight following to participating
VFR traffic. Radar vectors are available for
Spangdahlem TACAN, PAR, or ILS approaches to
either runway 05/23.
Tower: 122.2 GCA: 129.475
ATIS: 143.425 Bitburg Info: 122.3
See and Avoid Tip: Improve Your
You might think it is easy to spot a military aircraft because they
are usually larger than an airplane you might own or use.
Certainly, large military transport, bomber, or air refueling aircraft
are “airliner” sized, but what about a fighter? Take a look at the
figure below—it might give you an idea of relative fighter size.
Fighter Size and Closure
To put things in perspective, if you are flying at 120 knots and are
approaching an F-16 head-on traveling at 400 knots (a typical
fighter speed) you will close at about 800 feet per second. If your
initial separation was 6000 feet, you would have about 8 seconds
to react prior to impact. That is if you were able to recognize the
“dot on the horizon” as a conflict. Not much time! It takes
approximately 3-5 seconds for a pilot to recognize a threat, make a
decision, and initiate action. Also keep in mind the F-16 pilot will
have an even tougher time seeing you if your aircraft is smaller
The bottom line: keep your visual look-out honed!!!
The detection of airborne object depends on five conditions:
Sage advice for anyone who spots a military aircraft is to look for 1. Image size – size of the object relative to visual field-of-view
another military near by – often the same type as the first aircraft. 2. Contrast – difference between object and background
Military aircraft flock together. It provides mutual support and brightness, color, and shape
tactical efficiency, and is the way the military does business. Thus, 3. Adaptation – degree to which your eyes adjust to surrounding
it is safe to assume if you see one C-130 flying down Panamint illumination
Valley at 500 feet, there may be another C-130 near by. Some of 4. Motion – velocity of the object relative to you
the various military formations are shown below: 5. Exposure – length of time object is in view
Tactical Formations: There are two common scan patterns used to detect aircraft. Each
of these techniques involves a series of eye fixations at different
Wartime formations are called “tactical formations.” This usually points in space. These fixes are a block 10° to 15° wide that
means the aircraft are flying a mile or so apart horizontally and become your focus area. This gives you 9 to 12 blocks in your
may be split vertically by several thousand feet. You could see as scan, each requiring a minimum of 1 to 2 seconds for
few as two aircraft in a tactical formation or as many as eight or accommodation and detection.
more. Here is an example:
Military aircraft in a non-tactical formation (non-hostile)
environment usually fly in a “standard” formation. By regulation,
this means they must be within 1 mile horizontally and 100 feet
vertically of each other. Usually the aircraft will be close enough
together to spot them easily. Here are a few examples:
Military Aircraft Around the
Wingspan: 57 ft Normal Rate of Climb:
Spangdahlem Area CAS Length: 53 ft 2,000 to 4,000 FPM
FAC-A Height: 15 ft Normal App Speed:
CSAR Color: Grey 140 Knots
Boeing 747 Normal Rate of Climb:
VC-25 Wingspan: 195 ft
2,000 to 4,000 FPM
Length: 231 ft Normal App Speed:
Height: 63 ft 150 Knots Wingspan: 130 ft Wake: Medium
Color: White/Blue Wake: Heavy Length: 145 ft
C3 Height: 41 ft
Learjet Normal Rate of Climb:
Wingspan: 40 ft 2,000 to 4,000 FPM
Transport Length: 49 ft Normal App Speed:
Height: 17 ft 140 Knots
Color: White Wake: Medium Wingspan: 43 ft Wake: Medium
Length: 52 ft
Multi-role Height: 18 ft
Wingspan: 132 ft Normal Rate of Climb:
Length: 97 ft 1,500 FPM
C-130 Height: 38 ft Normal App Speed:
Cargo Color: Grey or 140 Knots
Green Wake: Medium
Wingspan: 32 ft Normal Rate of Climb:
Length: 49 ft Excess of 5,000 FPM
Multi-role Height: 16 ft Normal App Speed:
Color: Grey 150 Knots
Wingspan: 169 ft Normal Rate of Climb:
Length: 174 ft 2,000 to 4,000 FPM
Transport Height: xx ft Normal App Speed:
Cargo Color: Dark grey 135 Knots
Wingspan: 222 ft Normal Rate of Climb:
Transport Length: 247 ft 1,500 to 2,000
Cargo Height: 65 ft Normal App Speed:
Color: Dark grey 130 Knots
Landing and Takeoff: Remember WAKE TURBULENCE
avoidance: Land beyond the Heavy aircraft’s touchdown
point, or rotate prior to the Heavy aircraft’s takeoff point. Try
to stay above and/or upwind of the preceding aircraft’s wake.
Enroute: Avoid flight behind and below heavy aircraft, especially
those flying slow (approach speeds) with a clean (or minimum flap)
configuration, even a momentary wake encounter could be
hazardous. If a heavy jet is observed above you on the same track
(same or opposite direction), adjust your position laterally;
preferably upwind. Depiction of aircraft information, provided by an aircraft’s
Vortices drop at a rate of 500 feet per minute and when they reach transponder, as displayed on the controller’s screen.
ground effect in a calm wind condition they move laterally from
each wing tip at a speed of 5 knots. Vortices can trail down as
much as 1000 feet and 10 miles behind the aircraft that generates TCAS
it. Best defense…AVOID!
As a General Aviation pilot, you’re probably wondering “what does
TCAS have to do with me?” First of all, knowing the basics of TCAS
Transponders will assist you when flying in congested areas shared by larger aircraft
and you’ll realize how important it is to have your transponder on.
Private pilots can help ATC by installing a transponder in their Secondly, collision avoidance technology is finding its way to the
aircraft. The difference between a non-transponder equipped General Aviation market and is becoming more capable and
aircraft and one with a transponder is substantial. Transponders affordable.
make the radar signature “size” of a Piper Cub the same as a C-5
Galaxy. If you have a transponder (preferably with “MODE C”
altitude encoding), USE IT. Many pilots turn the transponder off Airliners and larger commuter aircraft with passenger seat capacity
when leaving terminal areas to “save” its useful life. There are two greater than 30 are now equipped with TCAS. In order for TCAS to
dangers in this practice. One danger is you become less visible on provide alerts and advisories, the conflicting aircraft must have an
the controller’s radar scope, and the other is the possibility of operational transponder. A Resolution Advisory (RA), which is the
forgetting to turn it back on at your destination. A final active vertical guidance provided by TCAS, requires the conflicting
thought…your operative altitude-encoding transponder can help aircraft to have Mode C altitude reporting capability. TCAS is blind to
Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) equipped aircraft without a transponder or with their transponder turned off.
aircraft see and avoid you.
Example of a TCAS display.
52 Fighter Wing Flight Safety
Comm: (49) 0656561-6543