AvWeb's Paul Bertorelli has decided he has had enough of student pilots being taught to fly circuits the size of Florida and so his response has been a sarcastic video trying to get pilots to straighten up and fly right. The video is well worth four minutes of your time.
Personally my philosophy of huge circuits has always been: "If you have an engine failure on downwind and the subsequent landing leaves you more than a day's walk from the airport then your circuit was too big".
Flight 8's Ruth Merkis-Hunt was a flight instructor for many years and here is what she has to say on the subject:
"Based on my own experience, too many flight instructors lack the knowledge and confidence to do circuits the way Bertorelli advocates. Even when I was learning to fly and to become an instructor, the message on all those horrible accidents pilots get into by turning at too steep a bank angle too close to the runway was drilled into our overawed heads."
"Another thing to consider is that flight schools that hire these instructors are out to make a buck, anything else is gravy. That means that anything that can keep a student flying longer will bring in more money for the school. Why would a school advocate nice tight circuits if by extending the downwind so that final approach is initiated in a different time zone that school can squeeze yet more money out of a student?"
"There are also some instructors who just enjoy being on a long final approach; perhaps seeing that as a way to tie up the circuit so that they are the focus of all the attention of ATC. A funny personality change takes place once a pilot evolves into a CAT IV instructor. Suddenly, sense and sensibility evaporate to be replaced by cockiness and stupidity (a substitute for the lack of confidence these barely qualified instructors still have). It is those observations that often lead to the same accidents that flight schools use to drive the point home to novices that circuits must be several nautical miles in length and breadth."
"There is a lot more room for more sarcastic flight instructing videos but they need to be a little more polished. The "interruptions" by the "legal department" were pretty lame, imho. Otherwise, as I said, there is a lot of room for a really cool series. We'll call it, "Dumb sh*t instructors do"."