IFR holding

AIM 5-3-7 revokes the 175 knot prop limit and now has 200, 230, and 265 above 14,000 or as specified on chart limits.
FAR 61.57(c) requires six instrument approaches (all the same or different), holding procedures, and interception and tracking of navaid courses for meeting required IFR currency.

An instructor must teach the direct, parallel, and teardrop holding entries even though the applicant can chose not to use them. Requirement is to remain within the airspace limits.
The most recent FAA presentations seem to be leaning toward a more liberal selection of procedure.

Why the Hold?

The hold is a way for ATC to adjust traffic so that it fits into the separation standards of the FARs.
When the hold is not part of a charted procedure, ATC will try to give you a direct entry.
Even when the hold is published, ATC may give a hold and direction that makes entry to the approach easier.
The instrument PTS does not say the FAA method must be used.
The CFII PTS specifies the FAA method as part of the test.
A hold does not need to be exact, You just have to remain inside the airspace on the holding side of the fix.
This can be done by doing the course reversal 90/270 by doing it as a 80/260 to allow for entry and recovery.
The same procedure can be used to make the procedure turn.
Always make your first 90 degreed turn to the holding side and your 260 will be in the holding direction.

The Way Holding Should Be
The shape of the holding pattern is as with a race track, rounded ends the give width and straight sides that give the pattern length. The holding direction is always the length from the fix. The right or left turn from the fix determines the width side of the pattern.

Draw the holding pattern on the fat of the thumb with the palm up on both hands. Mark the fix near the upper outside corner. The diagonal line follows the line of thumb through the fix and across the palm. The inbound course line is extended through the forefinger.

Any entry from below the thumb to the far side of the wrist is a direct entry. Any entry from the angle formed by the thumb and forefinger is a teardrop. Any entry coming across the fingers (fingers are parallel) or the palm will be a parallel entry. For Right pattern draw line down from the right For left pattern draw line down from the left.

Reference outbound course:
Small pie is teardrop
Middle piece is parallel
Big piece is direct


Climbing outbound on a procedures inbound radial is a sure way of meeting someone.
Prepare your departure and arrival strategies ahead of time.
Desire to be good is required to be good.
An accident occurs when you have exhausted your box of options.
Getting away with something stupid is a learning experience, not an invitation to try again.
If you become confused as to where you are in the holding pattern, reference your inbound heading's location.  It should be top for inbound or bottom for outbound.

On Holding
Under the revised FARs you are now required to log holds every 6 months for IFR currency. You are expected to use a procedure that will keep you within the protected airspace of the holding pattern. The entry guaranteed to keep you in the airspace is the course reversal. Both the parallel and teardrop entries can be substituted by the course reversal.

First you slow down. Entering holding patterns with excess speed increases the probability that you will fly out of protected airspace. the examiner will not accept reduction of speed sooner than three minutes before reaching the fix. You can get ATC approval if you wish to slow up sooner, however.

You much remember second to just turn to the outbound heading over the fix, perform the course reversal to the left for right standards holding patterns and to the right for non-standard left patterns. Draw it out, if you must. Go for tripling the wind correction angle while outbound but maintain your standard rate bank angles. Ask for two, three minute legs to give you more time to study your plates.

For the Practical Test Standards (PTS) you will need to know but not use the FAA recommended entries. An applicant who uses other than the recommended procedure must remain within the holding pattern protected airspace. Reference: AFS-600 Designee Update Vol 6, No. 2. April 1994. After you have your instrument rating it doesn't make any difference how you do a hold after you get your instrument rating, as long as you remain in protected airspace. The FAA is de-emphasizing the 70/110 method of determining holding pattern entries.

Aircraft holding patterns are a way of parking or delaying an aircraft along a route much as a railroad might use a railway siding. It may be used as a descent manoeuvre which avoids terrain or as an altitude stacking procedure to align aircraft as might be required in non-radar IFR situations. Holding is done for the convenience of ATC. Do not let their convenience jeopardize the FAR mandated fuel requirements. Be prepared to give minimum fuel advisories or to declare an emergency. Holding patters are used for traffic separation en route, for sequencing at terminals and as part of the approach procedure. The hold provides protected airspace. You may use a non-standard entry if it keeps you within protected airspace. Examiners may question you about the standard procedures if you choose to fly a non-standard pattern.

Flight instructors are required to teach the recommended holding pattern entries defined in the Instrument Flying Handbook and the AIM. This is so even though other entry procedures may enable the aircraft to enter the holding pattern and remain in protected airspace.

You are more likely to get vectors than a hold. If a delay becomes part of the approach, slow down. Advise ATC to he can see that you are helping the process. Organize your radios and frequencies. If a hold is called for you will do right turns unless left turns are directed or published. Get the EFC time. If you have trouble with Zulu time get it confirmed in local time. You are free to make your arrival to the hold in any manner but first you must fly to the fix.

Standard procedures say when specific actions are required, not how they are to be made. This is the difference between procedure and technique. The way you do things when flying the airplane will give you habit patterns that will protect us when overload situations occur. Habits do not replace checklists, they do get you moving in the proper direction and flow.

There are eight possible holds at any fix. Four of them are direct entries and four require that you reverse direction. The holding instruction always gives you the initial outbound course. Once established you just fly the times and pattern

Holding is rarely done and when required is usually a direct entry. Holding on the ground is replacing in-flight holding. Expect Further Clearance times are indefinite when a hold is required. Be prepared to evaluate fuel situation whenever given a hold. An hour's fuel is a minimum reserve when holding. The most critical requirement is that you know your margins and options.

G.A. aircraft have many options in lieu of a hold. The FAA system for holding should be discarded once you are IFR rated. Historically holds were either teardrop or direct. For me, they still are. New wind drift correction on the outbound are now predicated at times-3 of the inbound. I still prefer the times-2 correction. Regardless of the holding instructions, make sure you clearly understand what to do next and what to do after that.

Course Reversal Entries
The direct entry is most common and easy, at the fix turn to the outbound heading for one minute and fly inbound to the fix. If you can fly directly through the fix on the outbound heading with less than a 30-degree turn (teardrop) you fly for forty-five seconds and execute a course reversal initiated by a 90-degree opposite to the pattern direction and a 270-degree inbound (Course reversal). This turns you around and inbound to the fix and holding pattern.

If you must turn 90-degrees on arriving at the fix for the outbound heading, you will either make a direct entry in right turns to the right or left turns to the right (parallel) This will require you to fly forty-five seconds before initiating a course reversal from a right 90-degree turn and a left 270 back to the inbound intercept to the fix (course reversal). If your entry requires a left turn it will be either a direct entry to left turns or a left 90 outbound for one minute and then another left 90 followed by a right 270 inbound to the fix and right turns in the pattern (course reversal).

The above procedure is now allowed by FAR and is simplistic in that all procedures that require a reversal of direction are preceded by two opposite direction 90-degree; turns followed by a pattern direction 270 back to the fix.  They may be performed in the immediate vicinity of the fix or after flying outbound on the inbound radial for forty-five seconds. The outbound straight leg seems to be an option predicated on the wind.

The Fix
The hold is a race track pattern which, in no-wind conditions, is made up of one minute straight legs and one minute turns at each end. At one 'corner' of the pattern is a FIX. A FIX may be the airway intersection of two VOR radials, a VOR, an NDB, by DME along an airway radial or by direction. The pattern is normally flown at an economic fuel saving speed. If you are being flown toward a holding pattern by ATC, make a request for a lower (endurance) speed en route. This lower speed may eliminate the holding requirement. Always plan to slow down before reaching the fix. Sooner is better than too late. The turns are not normally timed since a standard rate turn is used and may be more or less than 180 degrees for windage.

There are rules about what angles radials are used to intercept at intersections. When procedures are designed, the protected airspace takes into account things like fix uncertainty due to poor navaid geometry. Once established in the holding pattern at an intersection fix the needles will be centred at the fix, both needles will be off on the outbound leg and one centred on the inbound leg. At a VOR the fix is reached at the moment of TO/FROM reversal. The needle is off to one side on the outbound leg. NDB holding will be covered later. The first big step to holding is aircraft control. You must have your power/trim settings for the aircraft so locked in that neither airspeed nor altitude become distractions or added work load.

Historically, the name of every intersection made some reference to something near that location. Originally the words were spelled out. With the advent of computers all intersections consist of five letters which may phonetically resemble the original. LODI became LODDI, RIO VISTA became REJOY and VISTA. Only an active imagination or an old memory bank makes possible many of the associations. VORs have only three letter designators.

Early attitude indicator gyros were quite subject to precession if a continuous turn were made. To prevent this as a problem holding patterns were designed with one-minute straight legs. Hence, the holding pattern as we know it.

In the real world of holding where it is an every flight occurrence at certain Class B airspaces, the pilot knows just by 'situational awareness' what he must do to position the aircraft to the fix and into the holding entry. You just know what to do and how to do it. There is no need for diagrams, angles, or mental gymnastics.

The General Aviation pilot will do more holds getting the IFR rating that he will ever do the rest of his flying life. It is because of this lack of use that the pilot must have an easy, available method for interpreting the clearance and determining the holding procedure.

Information provided by ATC:

The direction from the fix is given (confusion issue) including the radial or bearing to hold. This holding direction is the side to hold on but is not the course for the inbound direction.
Know when you arrive at the fix and make your outbound turn within six seconds.
One minute holds are made up to and including 14,000’. Know that the true airspeed over indicated airspeed increases with altitude.
Using a DME hold requires that you change your time for a leg into a distance for a leg. Thus, at 90 knots a leg would be 1.5 miles for one minute. Using DME you would turn after 1.5 outbound regardless of time.
--Expect further clearance (EFC) is required information for a hold. If ATC fails to give it, ask for it.
You are expected to used all available resources.

You start timing the outbound leg of intersection, VOR, and DME holds when you are on the selected outbound heading as corrected for wind. The traditional practice has been to double the outbound wind correction angle on the outbound heading. As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word triple' instead of double. At an NDB or if you can establish when abeam a VOR or a fix start your time when abeam. VOR: Outbound timing starts when to/from indicator reverses as you pass abeam the VOR.
Intersection: Outbound timing starts at completion of outbound turn since magnetic bearing cannot be determined.
NDB: Outbound timing starts when ADF relative bearing is 90-degrees minus drift correction angle.

Holding Airspace
The space available for the hold is fairly standardized both as to length and size to each side of the inbound course. There is a primary area, manoeuvring zone, and secondary area. The overall shape is like that of an elongated avocado cut in half lengthwise. The fix is on the course line. One nm away, at right angles to the course at the fix, is the centre (nameless) of the radii for the small end of the avocado. A five nm 180 degree area of arc forms the small end of the avocado. Ten nm away on the outbound course there is another point (nameless) on the same side of the course but two nm miles from the course. The six nm radii from this point form the big end of the avocado. The offset from the course line of these two points gives both ends of the manoeuvring zone. The course line is thus offset from the centre line of the avocado by one nm on the small end and two nm on the big end.

Draw an avocado. The holding inbound course line is offset to the non-holding side one mile from the centre of the arc of small end and is offset two miles to the non-holding side of the arc of the large end. The radius of the small end arc is 5 miles plus a two-mile secondary zone which extends like a heavy skin around the avocado. At its longest the avocado is 25 miles long. At the large end it is 15 miles wide and at the fix about 14 miles wide. The holding side gives us a over half an avocado that is 25 miles long, and widens from 7 miles to 10 miles on the holding side. The non-holding side is 23 miles long and 7 miles wide.

Holding patterns are used instead of procedure turns to reduce the amount of airspace required. The procedure turn can be any time you want as long as it is to the correct (protected) side. Caveat: Some Category A-only require reversal within 5 miles. It does not need to be as depicted unless it is a teardrop. Personally, I much prefer the 90° /270° since it is quicker and reduces potential wind effect.

There are specific rules about what angles radials are allowed to intercept at intersections. In theory, you could define an intersection of the 180 radial off one VOR and the 190 radial off another, but in practice the two cross at so shallow an angle it would be impossible, as you discovered, to locate the point accurately enough using VOR receivers. When procedures are designed, the protected airspace takes into account things like fix uncertainty due to poor navaid geometry. So, even though it looked like you were having troubles finding the fix, you were probably still within the protected airspace, which is all that's required.

ATC Directions
They are; NORTH (exactly 360 but ranging between 340 and 020);
NORTHEAST (exactly 045 but ranging between 020 and 070);
EAST (exactly 090 but ranging between 070 and 110);
SOUTHEAST (EXACTLY 135 but ranging between 115 and 160);
SOUTH (exactly 180 but ranging between 160 and 200);
SOUTHWEST (exactly 225 but ranging 200 to 250);
WEST (exactly 270 but ranging between 250 to 290);
NORTHWEST (exactly 315 but ranging between 290 and 340)

Sum-of-the-Digits. (Use numbers immediately above)
Notice, bold digits when added equal 9.
Notice, italicized digits when added equal 7
Notice, normal digits when added equal 2 (2+9+0 = 11; 1 + 1= 2 )

The Pilot Must Know:

How to fly from cruise to 90 knots and back again at altitude
Right from left
That a radial is from a VOR, a bearing is TO an NDB
The numbers and terms for major headings of the compass
How to get reciprocals quickly. (+ 2 and + 2).
Using the DG to get reciprocals, 30 and 45 degree angles
How to fly with minimum effort TO/FROM a VOR radial.
How to intercept and track a given bearing to an NDB
How to quickly tune and set radios is important.
The holding instructions are not complete without the Expect Further Clearance Time.  (EFC)t.

Radar/Radio Surveillance

ATC communications are guaranteed at MEA and expected at IAF and at Missed Approach altitude but not necessarily on approach.
Where possible ATC is required to detect and advise any time the holding airspace is exceeded. However, it is the pilot responsibility to maintain the hold, not ATC's.
If, when under radar, you should ever acknowledge that you have visual contact with pointed-out traffic it becomes your responsibility to both see and avoid. ATC has effectively handed this responsibility to you until you should again tell ATC that you can no longer see the traffic. Better to not see??
Yes the ATC system does fail but more common are mistaken frequency assignment or a dropped handoff. You can protect yourself by anticipating your next frequency. This can be done in your preflight planning, referring to your charts, using the A/FD listings, or most easily listening to the handoffs that occur in front of your flight. The last method is best because it is the least likely to be out-of-date. During busy and non-busy periods ATC will eliminate or combine station frequencies. When you know which period exists during your flight you can anticipate the required frequency.

Situational Awareness
No matter how you determine your holding procedure, your knowledge of where you are in relationship to the fix, the holding pattern, your arrival and departure routes are essential givens. The perceptual key to successful holding is to remain oriented. Don't even think about orientation until you are headed toward the fix or on an intercept to one of its legs.

Each of the three types of holds have certain characteristics as to entry, number and direction of turns, NAV/OBS changes, and orientation difficulties. The better they are understood the better you will stay oriented. The different kinds of holding fixes, the multiplicity of holds, the variations of instructions all contribute to the orientation problem. Since intersections are seldom at right angles (90 degrees) some eyeballing of the holds and turns will be required in actual practice. The airspace allotted for holding takes into account a considerable amount of pilot error.

If you must... ALWAYS-ALWAYS DRAW THE INBOUND SIDE AND HEADING FIRST when drawing any holding pattern. Doing this will at least improve the chance of getting the turn direction correct. As you go through the following study process first do the drawing. Get away from the drawing as soon as you are able. It is essential that you be able to mentally visualize any hold from an oral description consisting of only a fix name, a direction and the turn direction. i.e." Hold at RAGGE, south in left turns." or "Hold southeast at SNUPY." When no direction for the turns is given 'standard' is right turns.

A requirement for any holding entry is that the pilot be able to make some predetermination of wind direction and velocity. Your best insight will be your own in flight calculation of the wind. Do all you can to get the wind direction and velocity while you are flying to the fix. Your second best insight will be the FSS forecasts for your altitude.

Once you know the wind, triple your wind correction on the outbound legs for at least one minute of that leg. (As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word 'triple' instead of double.) This is a DR skill. Wind correcting headings are used on both the outbound (double the outbound) and inbound to fix courses. Wind correcting times are also used on the outbound headings to establish one minute inbound legs.

Course is the line you are trying to fly, heading is where the nose points in order to fly the course line. Course and heading are the same only when there is no crosswind. Since the holding side is "protected" airspace considerable allowance is made while the pilot tries to sort out the wind effect. Three times around should get the pattern into pretty good shape.

Getting Reciprocals
At this point is important for you, the pilot, to know how to get your reciprocals quickly and accurately. It is wise to memorize the eight cardinal headings and their reciprocals. The difficulty of adding or subtracting 180 can be overcome by several methods. Always say course, headings, bearings, or radials as consisting of three digits. You should have started this way as a student pilot.
Easy way #1
Just set the original number at the bottom of the OBS dial.

Easier way #2
Add 200 subtract 20/subtract 200 add 20.

Since you need to either add or subtract 180 degrees To a number less than 180 add two hundred and subtract twenty i.e. 045 + 200 = 245 - 20 = 225 To a number more than 180 subtract 200 and add twenty. i.e. 266 - 200 = 66 + 20 = 086

Easiest way #3
Since every number on the compass consists of 3 digits, just add or subtract two from the first two digits. The third digit remains the same. Course = 0 4 5 Course 2 2 5
             +2-2__         -2+2__
becomes 2 2 5              0 4 5

Easiest: Take two from first digit and add it to second digit; take two from second digit and add to first digit.

Another way: The last digit of reciprocals always remains the same. The middle number always increases or decreases by eight. There are only four different initial digits. First write down the last digit. To find the first digit you must know how the numbers on opposite quadrants of the compass rose change. The first digit threes are in the opposite quadrant from the ones. The zeros are opposite the twos. It works but might not be that easy under pressure.

Knowing the sum of the digits for all 90, 180, and 270 points from a given heading are equal. For example, 135 degrees adding the digits equals 9. The 180 degree reciprocal is 315 which also equals 9. The 90/270 degrees are 225 and 045 and the sums of the digits equal 9. This will work for any compass points including 45 degree intervals, 22.5 degree intervals and 11.25 degree intervals. Occasionally, during a turn you may have failed to determine a 90 or 180 degree heading point. The above sum of the digits knowledge may save the turn. Likewise, you can just reference the initial heading in an appropriate 90 or 180 position on the HI.

Mark all published holding patterns on plates and area charts with a diagonal line having arrows and numbers for headings in both directions.

Highlight important frequencies, directions, times, and altitudes. Be aware that once you have learned the ‘approved’ FAA method and obtained your certificate you may want to use only the ‘course reversal’ method explained later.

NDB Holding
A holding fix at an NDB or equivalent is usually flown direct to the NDB using the ADF. If a specific bearing for arrival at the NDB fix is given then an intercept procedure is required. Flight using the ADF requires that very accurate headings be flown. An accurate heading makes it possible to determine the effect of any wind. Flight into a crosswind will be tracking accurately on course if the heading is constant while the needle likewise remains constant even though not on '0'. Loran and GPS makes tracking so easy that the FAA will not allow it.

In many respects holding with an ADF is easier than with a VOR fix of any kind. With the ADF you always know where the fix is. You can always fly right to the fix even if by a circuitous route due to winds. Once at the fix you determine the bearing on which ATC has determined the holding direction and if non-standard turns. No mental reversals of inbound/outbound courses are required. No frequency changes. Just get there and do it.

Entries (ADF)
Diagramming the eight possible patterns around an ADF fix is beyond my computer ability. I suggest that you do so on a sheet of paper. By numbering from the top from one to eight you begin with #1 at the top left until  #8 is above the line to your left 

Using a clockwise eight count for each pattern from 12 o’clock we find that only #4 and #5 give you instant inbound entry into the pattern. #1 and #2 require that you turn to depart the fix at a 30 degree angle from the outbound direction for one minute before tracking back to the fix the classic tear drop entry. #4 and #7 allow you to track outbound on the inbound bearing before turning back to the fix through the holding pattern. #3 and #8 Require that you fly outbound on a heading until the ADF needle points tracks to the 30 degree point be hind you. This should take one minute. and another minute turn back to the  fix.

Once you have tracked back to the fix you are established in the hold and should begin turns in the assigned direction. Your outbound leg is made on a heading designed to correct for the wind as guessimated or forecast. The preferred procedure is to determine the inbound correction required. Once the inbound correction has been approximated be sure to triple the angle of correction of correction on the outbound leg. (As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word 'triple' instead of double.) This will make the holding pattern egg shaped as required by the wind.

One of the beauties of the ADF is that it is relatively easy to determine when to begin timing the outbound leg. When the Fix is at the 90 degree point, left or right, start your time. In no wind conditions the needle will be at the 30 degree rear position at the completion of the one minute outbound leg. The + effect of the wind will change the angle slightly as well as the outbound time required to set the inbound leg time to one minute.

Fly a NDB holding pattern in calm conditions and note how the needle will be at 90/270 as when to begin timing the outbound course. Note how needle will tract to your rear, left or right, 30 degree position when you have reached your time for beginning your inbound turn. Next try this on a windy day and note how the needle is not nearly as much help in either determining your timing points or wind correction angle.

NDB Holding Simplified
In the "real world" bearings are seldom flown exactly. If the NDB can be located on a LORAN or GPS such flight is very easy. (Flying an NDB approach to an airport becomes a very accurate affair if the airport location is put into the LORAN or GPS.)

When holding at NDB the first inbound turn is flown direct to the NDB. The heading required to fly direct gives some indication of wind correction required. Make a guess as to the amount of wind correction required. Triple this correction angle into the wind on the outbound leg. When you come out of the turn to your inbound heading if the ADF needle is '0' then your wind correction is correct. Change your inbound heading to correct for the wind again. Make any fine adjustment required. Repeat the procedure as necessary to correct for wind and time.

Identify fixes using an NDB bearing is a check-ride Catch 22. There are FAFs that use a wing tip bearing for identification.

Regarding Frequency changes, turns, and OBS settings, there is a pattern for you to learn.

The NDB hold requires no changes of any kind.
The VOR hold's only change is required after crossing to set the reciprocal of the assigned radial on the OBS.
Direct entries #4 & #5 require no changes.
Teardrops #1 and #8 require only an OBS reversal on the #1 OBS.
Parallels holds # 3 & #6 and direct entries #2 & 7 require a complete change in frequencies and OBS
settings. Each hold requires a sequence of changes.

There is a pattern to the changes in frequency and OBS settings required for each hold. By working through each hold slowly you can learn the appropriate pattern. I would suggest that you memorize and practice making frequency/OBS changes on the ground so that every knob will be turned initially in the right direction and the right amount. Anything you can do to lighten your load under single pilot IFR should be practiced.

For the intersection hold the interception settings of the two VORs are maintained until reaching the intersection and making the initial turn. It is desirable to set all NAV/OBS on the outbound leg and reset/check them on the inbound leg. When flying to a holding fix, marked by an intercepting VOR radial, don't wait for more than a one dot movement of your intercept needle before slowing down. Set up a timing intercept radial for NDB and VOR fixes as Poor man's DME. (See instructor)

One of the ways to better plan holding is to develop a course/ VOR #1-OBS/VOR and a #2 VOR/OBS chart. Chart should Specify intercept heading, course inbound, and all headings after turns. The word time or the letter T should be written under all headings that require timing. The #1 VOR should always be the one being tracked to or from. The #2 should always be the interception one. Although it may seem easier in some patterns not to do this it can lead to complete disorientation under stress situations.

Remember that on outbound legs while established in the holding pattern the needles will not be centred. The degrees of turn inbound to intercept the inbound leg of the parallel hold may be increased /slowed to allow easier interception and tracking to the fix.

Changing the OBS
Once you have a good command of how to enter the hold, practice using the OBS. Try to turn the shortest distance. Some settings are easy to misplace. If a setting is 039, set 040 and back off a fraction. Watch out for parallax in your view of the numbers and setting. Be aware than some older dials have the OBS setting on the bottom rather than on top. If you have trouble getting reciprocals, just put your number on the bottom. If the number you want on the OBS is to your right, turn the OBS knob to the right. One full twist between the finger and thumb will approximate 90 degrees. Practice setting changes required for every hold until you can make required changes in less than 5 seconds.

Basic Components.
There are three different holding pattern entries
direct--You make a standard rate turn to the outbound heading from the fix. and time when on the outbound heading.

teardrop--You make a 30-degree turn from the fix to the left for right turns (right for left turns) and time from the fix. Draw 30-degree angle on chart.

parallel--You turn outbound and time leg before turning left for right turns (right for left turns) and time from the fix. Inbound direct to the fix for holding pattern.

There are two different holding directions
right (standard) need not be assigned or published
left - must be assigned or published

We will always be flying toward the fix. Every hold will be to the right or left of the course to the fix. Turns are either standard or specified (left). The major variable is in the instructions for the hold.

Frequently the holding direction makes a second approach clumsy. An experienced controller will reverse the holding direction if he knows ahead of time that you plan to do multiple approaches so that your entries can be direct..

Holding Directions (Repeated material different presentation)
Every four way intersection has eight holds.
Four are direct entries.
Of the four direct entries the two to your left are in left turns and the two to your right are in right turns. Note pattern: Left/left and right/right.
Two are teardrop.
Two are parallel
The teardrop and parallel are ambidextrous; the patterns to your right are in left turns, those to your left are in right turns. Pattern: Left/right and right/left.

The teardrop entries are both across the fix extending in your line of flight.
The parallel entries extend to the left and right on the approaching side of the fix.

Diagramming the Hold
Use a + shape to denote the fix. Let the top of the + be the direction of flight. You are arriving from the bottom of the + and flying toward the top of the +. You always fly to the holding fix. The fix is the middle of the +. Draw a + and put in the two teardrop holds. They will always be to each side of the top vertical. Draw another + fix and put in the two parallel holds. They will always be below the horizontal and extending to each side. Draw a third + fix and put in the four direct entries. Two will be to each side of the bottom vertical. Two will be above the horizontal and extending to each side.

Number the holds of a four inch + from one to eight clockwise, beginning at the top right. Now draw small R-arrows and L-arrows along the patterns on the outbound legs to confirm turn direction. Begin drawing every series of arrows on the inbound leg of the holding pattern. You should be able to detect a pattern. There is a relationship between the location of the fix and the turn direction. Look for it.

Direct Entries
We are going to begin with the four direct entry patterns. Patterns 3 & 8 initially and then 5 & 6. A direct entry means that the pattern turns and holding pattern side relative to your heading are to the same side. Right side, right turns; left side left turns. Just fly to the fix and start turning. In a direct entry, once you have flown through the fix, set up the fix on your radios.

Direct entries #5 and #6 which extend toward you from the fix do not require any frequency or OBS changes. The frequency/OBS changes for direct entry #3 is paired with parallel entry #4 and direct entry #8 is paired with parallel entry #7. (covered later)

#5 and #6 Direct Entries
Now draw the intersection but put only patterns 5 & 6 on the drawing. They should extend toward the bottom of the page like two sausages side by side. You are flying (drawing and then walking) directly up the centre line of the street toward the fix. This is called the inbound leg. The pattern to your right (#3) is in right turns and the pattern to your left (#8) is in left turns.

#5 and #6 Radio Set
No NAV/OBS changes are required whether you are flying to an NDB, VOR or intersection for patterns #5 & #6

#5 and #6 Clearance
The area of student difficulty in orienting to #5 and #6 lies in the terminology of the instructions for the holding pattern at the fix. The holding direction is given as opposite to your direction of flight. You are flying north and told to hold SOUTH. The holding radial may be given as the same or the reciprocal to your course depending on the location of the VOR (ahead or behind).
If the holding direction is opposite to your direction of flight; the pattern extends toward you from the fix, you don't need to make any NAV/OBS changes and the entry is direct.

#3 and #8 Direct Entries
Yow draw a new intersection, you are flying toward the top of the page, and put in patterns 3 & 8. These should extend to the side like wings. They are on the upper side of the horizontal line. You are flying (driving, walking) toward the fix and the patterns extend, wing like, to your right and left. The one on the right (#3) is in right turns; the one on the left (#8) in left turns. At the fix a series of NAV/OBS changes are necessary and will be covered later. At the fix first turn to the outbound heading and start the time. During your flight to the fix you should have tried to determine both direction and velocity of the wind. It is appropriate that you adjust your initial outbound flight according to your estimate of the wind. Otherwise fly outbound heading for one minute.

#3 and #8 Radio Set
You have this one minute to make the NAV/OBS changes.  Ample time if you have practiced the settings. In addition, it provides the interception and tracking information required for flying toward the fix.

The #3 Nav/OBS is used to set up the interception at the fix. Both the frequencies and the OBS settings need to be reversed between the #1 and #2 radios. Use an intercept radial from another VOR if at all possible at a single VOR fix. It's nice to have the use of a VOR intercept radial even at an NDB fix.

Non-direct Entries
Of the remaining four holding patterns, two will be teardrop and two will be parallel entries. These entries require that you get the airplane turned around going to the fix. It is this turning around that causes pilot disorientation. The purpose of the teardrop and parallel procedure is merely to turn the aircraft around in the FAA’s conception of the simplest manner possible.

#1 and #2 Teardrop Entries
If the ATC specified direction of the hold is the same, or nearly so, as your course the entry is a teardrop. These holds will be within 30 degrees of #2 & #1. If the ATC specified turn direction is to the right then the pattern is to your left and vice versa. The hold to the RIGHT will be in LEFT turns. The hold to the LEFT will be in RIGHT turns. You will fly through the fix and diagonally through the holding pattern bisecting it at 30 degrees. (Just as the first turn on a 45 entry to right traffic is to the left, so will your first turn into a teardrop calling for left turns be to the right and the teardrop calling for right turns be to the left.)

If you have an approach plate that frequently requires teardrop entries, it is a good idea to draw in the 30 degree angle and heading numbers on the plate. In the teardrop clearance calling for right turns only the first 30 degree turn is to the left. Likewise, the holding pattern calling for a teardrop in left turn has an initial turn to the right. You time the diagonal for one minute and turn about (wind) 210 degrees to intercept the inbound leg. The 210 degree turn and all subsequent turns will be the opposite direction of the initial 30 degree turn and in the direction specified in the clearance. Once established on the inbound leg you are in the holding pattern.

#1 and #2 Radio Set
The VOR frequencies on #1 and #2 remain the same. While on the outbound diagonal the #1 OBS must be reversed 180oto the inbound course. No changes to the #2 radio are needed. Again, for teardrop entries, the only change will be a 180o reversal of the #1 Nav OBS.

#2 and #2 Clearance
If the holding direction is given as within 30 degrees of the reciprocal to your direction of flight, the entries will be teardrop. The pattern to your right will be in left turns with the initial turn a 30 degree right turn. All subsequent turns are to the left. The pattern to your left will be in right turns with the initial turn a 30 degree left turn. All subsequent turns are to the right.

#4 and #7 Parallel Entries
The remaining two patterns #4 & #7 are parallel entries. Commonly called PARALLEL OUTBOUND since your first turn of 90 degrees parallels the outbound leg while actually flying the reciprocal course and radial of the inbound leg. The parallel holding patterns extend at approximate right angles to your initial inbound course. You must fly through the tips of these patterns to get to the fix. On arrival at the fix you turn left if the holding turns are right or right if the holding turns are left, to parallel and intercept the outbound course. Estimated wind correction may be applied. Time this outbound leg for one minute as soon as established out of the turn. At the end of the minute an additional 210 degree turn in the same initial 90 degree turn direction will give you at least a 30 degree interception back to the fix.

The first two turns from the fix of 90 and about 210 degrees will be in the same direction with all subsequent turns as part of the holding pattern in the opposite direction. You will have turned right 90 degrees for the pattern to the right of your course. You will, after one minute, turn right again about 210 degrees to fly diagonally through the pattern and intercept the inbound radial to the fix. A total of about 300 degrees to your right in order to reverse the aircraft flight direction. All subsequent turns will be to the left. or You will have turned left 90 degrees for the pattern to the left of your course. You will, after one minute, turn left again about 210 degrees to fly diagonally through the holding pattern and intercept the inbound radial to the fix. All subsequent turns will be to the right.

Simple Parallels
If the parallel pattern is to your left, your first two turns are to the right in order to reverse your flight direction by flying a diagonal back to the fix.. The pattern turns are to the left thereafter. If the parallel pattern is to your right, your first two turns are to the left in order to reverse your flight direction by flying a diagonal back to the fix.. The pattern turns are to the right thereafter.

#4 and #7 Radio set
The Nav/OBS changes for patterns #7 & 4 has four variables. You can be tracking to or from a VOR and the interception VOR may be to your left or right. However there are a number of constants. The first is that the #1 and #2 navigational frequencies will be reversed. The #1 OBS will be turned 90 degrees to the right for patterns #7 & 8 and 90o to the left for patterns #3 and #4.

There is a pattern but no easy way to set the #2 OBS for any of the four patterns. You must know if the intercept station is going to be to your left or right. The OBS change will always be only 90o and is the same for #7 & 8 in each situation. The OBS change will always be only 90 degrees and is the same for # 3 & 4 in each situation.


intersections will offer variations. Six holding patterns are possible. The direction of your arrival at the intersection gives a direct entry to at least two patterns. The teardrop to your left will be left turns; the teardrop to your right will be right turns. The parallels are as usual, to the right left turns, to the left right turns. Any entry that requires more than a 90 degree turn is wrong.

Single VOR Holding
All of the previous VOR holding has assumed that you have dual VORs.

Now you should try holding along an airway using only one Nav radio. This requires that you have identified two VORs as operational and are keeping the volume at a level sufficient to hear the code. You need to have both frequencies and OBS settings required for the fix posted/memorized. You will be busy making the changes so practice the way to turn the frequency knobs and the OBS for the most efficient changes. Counting frequency change clicks is one way while you keep your eyes on the instruments. You don't need to watch the frequency knob change. Learn how far the OBS turns as you normally twist it and make the twists required before looking at the numbers.

DME Holding
The DME fix will be along a radial perhaps of an airway. If you are flying the radial be aware that your flight direction must be either away from (FROM) the VOR or through the VOR (TO). The DME fix is always named as being on the radial FROM the VOR so this can be confusing. Be sure that you are reading the DME in such a manner as to be flying toward the fix. This type of DME fix has only four possible holds. All the holds are along the radial. Two will be toward the VOR and two will be away from the VOR. Two will be direct entry and two will be teardrop. If you are flying toward the fix and the VOR your OBS will be TO as will your heading. BUT the fix is named as DME on the radial FROM. This can cause confusion.

Prior to reaching the fix you must determine two things about the hold. Determine the direction of the hold and the direction of the turns. If your flight will reach the holds before reaching the fix then the entries will be direct whether right or left turns. If your flight will reach the fix before reaching the holds then your entries will be teardrop. The teardrop with left turns will be to your right. The teardrop with right turns will be to your left. Make your 30 degree diagonal turn across the hold accordingly. Time for one minute. Since the teardrop is actually a course reversal  you must reverse the OBS for the inbound heading to avoid reverse sensing. If the entries to the DME fix are direct no changes of the OBS will be required. It would be most unusual to be asked to hold at a DME fix at right angles to the radial determining the fix.

The Clearance
The designation of a hold can take several forms. A most frequent area of confusion involves the use of cardinal heading terminology. The eight headings are north, northeast, east, south east, south, southwest, west, northwest. You can be asked to hold northwest at a fix while on a southeast heading. You might be told to hold southwest while entering a fix from the south east. Know the directions and their related numbers.

You may be given a radial from a VOR to hold on that requires a TO OBS setting. A DME fix may require an OBS reversal or not. While not mandatory it is considered preferable to always fly the #1 VOR head and use the #2 for interceptions. The exception might be when flying to intercept an inbound approach heading.

The holding clearance will give first a holding direction. The holding direction may be given as a bearing to/from an NDB, as a radial from a VOR, or as one of the eight cardinal directions .

Clearance Types
Items essential to a holding clearance. These items can be given in several ways published, standard, assigned by ATC.
A charted hold can be given by ATC by giving the name, the holding leg direction and the term "as published", and the EFC (expect further clearance) time.
1. EFC time is the last essential assigned item for any holding clearance.
An established no wind hold takes four (4) minutes with two one minute
legs and one minute standard rate turns at each end.
2. Definition of the fix.
Definition is by name of navaid, intersection, or geographic location.
3. The holding leg.
This may be a stated direction, radial, course, bearing azimuth, airway or route.
4. Leg length
Defined in miles or time if other than standard. Standard on inbound leg is one minute below 14,000' MSL
and 1 1/2 above. Adjustment of outbound leg is required to obtain required inbound leg time.

5. Direction of turns
Right turns are standard, left turns must be requested or assigned by ATC.
6. Altitude to be specified unless same as last assigned which is standard.
7. Speed maximum standards are set by FAR AIM 5-3-7 revokes the 175 knot prop limit and now has 200,
230, and 250 or as specified on chart limits for all other than Jets (265 KIAS). ATC cannot require speed
reductions in holding patterns. Best economy speed makes most sense for all concerned.
8. It is standard to triple the wind correction angle of the inbound leg on the outbound leg. This compensates for the
wind's effect during turns. (As of January 6, 1995, the AIM uses the word 'triple' instead of double.)

The holding direction may be given as on a radial from a VOR which is actually the reciprocal of the inbound holding course. Knowing that this is the standard ATC representation means that you must mentally reverse the direction and radial for your inbound direction. (For example: Being told to, "Hold at a VOR northeast on the 030 radial" really means that your inbound heading will be to the southwest on the 210 radial.)

The same directions given as a radial to or from a VOR passing through an intersection at an airway intersection may or may not require the mental reversal. The direction may be given as a bearing to an NDB in which the bearing and inbound heading are identical but the actual hold will be on the opposite side of the fix. You could be told to hold WEST (270), on the 090 bearing to the NDB.

It is the wording of the instructions to a hold is more often than not the cause of the perceptual difficulties pilots have. While flying north to a fix you might be instructed to hold south. This means that your inbound leg to the fix will be to the north while the body of the holding pattern will be to the south. Draw it out and see. The entry will be direct with no frequency/OBS changes required.

You must stay oriented. If assigned to hold on a radial, you must realize that your inbound leg heading TO or at the VOR will be the reciprocal of the numbers given in the holding instructions. If holding FROM the VOR (not at the VOR) the assigned radial and the inbound leg will be the same radial.

Again both situations should be drawn out to show understanding.
With reference to the eight cardinal directions you will be given
(1) The general direction of the holding pattern (airspace) from the fix as a cardinal direction. (Southeast)
(2) The name of the fix which can be a DME point as well.
(3) Specific direction numbers as a reference. Whenever the holding leg is other than one of the cardinal directions the degrees will be given. Radials are always FROM and bearings are always TO unless stated as FROM.
(4) The direction of the turns, right is standard.
(5) EFC Expect further clearance.
(6) Time now.

There is a way to help your interpretation of a clearance. Learn to say the clearance as it would be given by ATC with all the requirements as you practice the sequence of holds below. This will clarify your understanding of how the words define the hold. Knowing how the clearance tells where you will be and what you will be doing will give you the situational awareness required to keep the brain functioning normally. Learn to act as your own controller and give the clearance information you need to correctly approach the fix, determine the holding direction, and the turn direction. The cardinal direction is usually defined by assigning a radial number or airway.

As a pilot you need to think ahead of the holding pattern to how you will depart toward your destination. The incorrect clearance can make that departure more difficult. If ATC should give you a hold that is going to make your departure less than the most efficient you can suggest a change. Just the difference of right turns to left turns can be significant.

Course Reversal Holding and Procedure Turns
The consistent use of a course reversal whenever it is necessary to reverse aircraft direction has desirable qualities. A procedure turn done by course reversal does not require timing and focuses inbound attention on interception. The course reversal very easily substitutes for all the intricacies required for parallel and teardrop holding patterns.

Approach Holds
There are two different depictions of approach holds on charts. The bold depiction of a hold is part of the procedure. The bold hold is used as a course reversal segment. Where the holding pattern is lightly depicted on the plate it is part of the missed approach but not part of the procedure. You cannot correctly fly the procedure from a lightly depicted holding pattern.

The TERPS has different altitude minimums for each variation of the holding pattern. Where a light holding pattern exists you must get established on the outbound course before doing a course reversal by procedure turn or otherwise. Only proceeding this way will insure that you remain in protected airspace.

Clearance Simulation
It is possible to learn your job better as a pilot faced with a holding clearance by knowing the job of your ATC counterpart who has to issue the clearance.

Holding Peculiarities
There are 31 different holding pattern sizes based on different aircraft speeds and altitudes. In many situations ATC can, at its option change the size of a holding airspace protected area once an aircraft is established in the hold. The holding minimum pattern altitude (MHA) may be less than the minimum instrument altitude (MIA) in mountainous areas.

Not all holding patterns considered to be ‘published’ are on charts or plates. It doesn’t matter. ATC can require you to hold at any time as long as you remain above specified altitudes. You do not need to be in radar contact for an ATC hold. Because of protected areas minimums all instrument approach procedure course reversal holding patterns are limited to 200 knots or less. TERPS design of the holding patterns protects the course reversal area under the assumption that the outbound course will be flown.

RNAV procedures only holding patterns-in-lieu-of-procedure-turns are authorized for course reversals. The length of the pattern is a maximum as long as you remain in protected airspace you can cut is shorter.

Study Session Use the San Francisco Area Chart. Draw, walk or 'dry run' the following routes and make the holds as assigned. If making a 'dry run' in an aircraft work through the frequency/OBS changes required at each hold. Make a 4 column chart of the changes. Try using parts of the charts on an actual flight.

Using the Clock
The aircraft clock is used by IFR pilots for a variety of purposes. Consider the timing for groundspeed, approach timing, ETA prediction, fuel planning and the timing of course interceptions.

The planning of a flight is charted by mileage. The pilot is well advised to convert mileage into time. Your lapboard could (should) have a conversion chart for cruise and approach ground speeds. A GPS is a big help to figure in wind effects. When you make the conversion into minutes you can take the next step of anticipating in terms of time.

You can stay ahead of the aircraft when you use time. When making ATC vector intercepts, you anticipate a 30-degree intercept angle by 10-seconds. A 45-degree intercept takes 15 seconds.

Single Nav Holding
One of the most difficult things I ever had to do was hold at an intersection determined by 2 radials of 2 different VORs with one receiver and a NORDO aircraft. I had to leave the fix at the EFC time. Fortunately
for me I had some good instrument instructors who helped me learn it for an airman flight check.

If you remember the 6 Ts: Turn Time Twist Throttle Talk Track; they were devised for a very good reason. If you only have one omni the first step is to intercept the radial that is the holding course, from either direction. Once you are established on that radial, figure out the wind correction angle, then hold the heading. Next tune in the 2nd VOR (twist) and determine which side of the aircraft the station is on.

 If the needle is on the same side as the station you're not there yet (same side, safe side). When the needle starts to centre then start your turn. If the needle flips to the opposite side of the VOR and you miss it, you've passed the radial, start your turn. Time outbound and set up the VOR to track the inbound course again. If you're making a parallel entry from the opposite direction, use the same technique to get established inbound. Besides wearing the knobs out on your avionics it works pretty good. There may be other methods but this was the easiest for me. Of course if you have 2 receivers or a DME it works much easier.

The Holding Pattern

Triple the outbound wind correction
Wind makes a big difference
@90 knots a 15 knot 90-degree wind is one mile off course in one minute
It is possible to have a wind in which a proper holding pattern cannot be made.

VOR Holding
One of the difficulties of VOR understanding involves that the presentation of a radial is always outbound or FROM the VOR while all hold instructions are inbound on the assigned radial. Essential this means the pilot must mentally reverse the radial assigned to go inbound on its reciprocal heading. The choice is whether you let ATC twist your thinking using radials before you begin flying or whether you fly headings only because that's what you will be doing anyway.

While you are inbound on the 330 radial (heading of 150 that they don't mention. You are told to hold on the 315 radial (requires either direct to VOR or a turn to the right to intercept and fly inbound on the 315 radial prior to reaching the VOR). The problem is not you, it is the convoluted manner of presenting the hold with numbers that are reciprocal to the ones you will actually use and even worse not in the order of use.

Electronic Positional Awareness Errors

Bend in airway between two VORs
Use of stale database.
Intercept of radial to wrong navaid.
Use of wrong GPS coordinates.
Pilotage and Dead Reckoning are your GPS backups.
Transposition of two of the three possible letters is a common error.
Given the choice between an ATC command and a GPS reading, obey ATC.
Use ’nearest’ to maintain geographic orientation
GPS has greatly increased the CFIT problem
There is no phase of flying that cannot be made more difficult by technology.

New Look at Holding
The hold as used in IFR is a method of parking and/or turning around an airplane. In my studies I have found some nice to know things about holds and intersections.

The hold has the straight legs of a racetrack because the older gyros would cause precession during continuous circles. The straight-away allow the gyro to settle down. We still do it but I understand that
it is not really needed, today.

If you take an intersection crossed at right angles as a + sign and beginning at the top left you can get eight different holding patterns.. Draw it and let the patterns overlap so you can see all eight in one drawing. Use arrows to show the direction of the pattern or R/L .

Assume that in your flight you are arriving from the south and are heading north. The direction is not important but the numbering of the holds remains the same.

This is what you have when driving a car into a + intersection and can be visualized while stopped at an intersection. Beginning at the top left number around the + until you have all the holds from one to eight.

Of the eight holds four are direct entry and do not reverse the direction of flight. The other four turn the aircraft around in a direction opposite to that of their arrival.

Good practice would be to always fly the #1 VOR and intersect the #2 VOR Use the outbound legs to make the required changes in frequency and OBS.

Note that the two holds at the top (1&2) are teardrop entries and for right turns you turn left for #1 and for left turns you turn right for one minute before turning to the inbound leg and reversing the OBS while timing for one minute (ideal)

The other two holds that reverse arrival directions are below the horizontal cross bar (+) and are called parallel outbound holds. Again the one on the left gives a right turn holding pattern and the one on the right gives a left turning holding pattern.

The four direct entry holds turn right or left as required. Right turns understood unless left turns are specified on crossing the fix and fly in the outbound direction specified in the clearance initially for one (To be adjusted) minute. Holds to the right side of the vertical bar will in right turns and holds to the left side of the vertical bar will be left turns.