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Why is it inappropriate to enter a hold on the outbound leg?

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Instrument Rating

The AIM describes three options for entering a hold - direct, parallel, and teardrop. Sometimes, on a missed approach, you are flying direct to the fix "head on" to the holding pattern. These situations warrant the teardrop or parallel entry. Why is it not recommended to enter the hold on the outbound leg and then turn inbound to the fix as if already established in the hold?

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3 Answers



  1. Mark Kolber on Dec 22, 2014

    All of the recommended entries to a hold involve the same first step – flying to the holding fix itself.

    Consider a simple standard VOR hold. In order to enter on the outbound leg (essentially the “downwind” when compared to the inbound course) for a simple VOR hold without going to the VOR first, you would be merely guessing where to go, wouldn’t you? How do you figure out how far to be laterally from the VOR? And if you do go to the VOR first, how is turning X° to the left after crossing the VOR and then turning onto the outbound leg (both with wind correction) in any way better than a teardrop?

    Have you drawn your idea out to see what it would entail? Try it and I think you’ll see what I mean. Here’s the VOR 4 at KLBL. you’ve gone missed. Exactly how do you navigate directly to that 3024′ tower sitting right at the edge of the outbound leg? And is that really the “location” of the outbound leg anyway since the outbound leg is anywhere in protected airspace? And what instruments (no RNAV/GPS) tell you when you are there and how far you are from the VOR laterally?

    A bit confusing compared to centering the needle, going to the VOR and making a parallel or teardrop entry? There’s your answer.

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  2. Alan Alda on Dec 22, 2014

    I’ve been flying a GPS only instrument aircraft. It of course has no problem determining the outbound leg. I wasn’t thinking more broadly.

    The AIM recommended entries make complete sense when considering traditional NAV radios.

    Thanks for the answer!

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  3. John D Collins on Dec 24, 2014

    The hold is composed of 4 legs, the two course reversal legs (aka the 180 turns), the outbound leg, and the inbound leg. All the legs described are flown as DR (Dead Reckoning) legs except the inbound leg to the holding fix provides positive course guidance, the others can vary substantially in position and direction because of wind. All the various entries are designed to use the minimum airspace, favoring the larger protection area on the holding side of the hold. They are are designed to position the aircraft to pass over the holding fix, fly an outbound and join the hold on the inbound course to navigate to the holding fix using the positive course guidance. Once you are established on the inbound course, you are established in holding.

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