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3 Answers

Holding pattern entry

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Instrument Rating

I'm having a little bit of confusion on holding pattern entries. I looked online a few videos and diagrams, and some say one thing, and other say another.

What I'm referring to is the classic pie graph looking diagram we learn to determine whether we do a Teardrop, Parallel, or Direct hold. So, what is the correct order for a standard right turning hold, and left turning hold? 

I understand where the Direct entries are, that's not too hard to understand. If we are reading from left to right looking at the diagram, it's whether the Parallel comes first, then the Teardrop or vise versa for a standard right holding procedure. 

Also, I was wondering why for a standard right turning holding pattern some diagrams would contradict one another. Thanks.


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3 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on May 01, 2016

    Holding is unfortunately one of those aviation subjects that has been made far more complicated that it needs to be, mostly due to the way it has been taught. It’s going to difficult to simplify it (without over-simplifying it) in a short post, but I will take a shot. This is a very short version of what I do in a ground session. I am also not going to get into an argument about non-AIM entries. They are fine but don’t help with understanding the AIM ones.

    There’s not an “order” to the entries. The entry you make depends on where you come from. If you step back a bit and forget about the 70° arc and the other exact points where they change from one to another, I think you will discover the AIM recommendations make sense.

    Sounds like you already know the three – direct, parallel and teardrop – and what they generally look like, so we will assume at least that level of knowledge. It also assumes that you process visually (I find most do but some don’t)

    Now on a whiteboard or something, draw a holding pattern and identifying it as right or left turns. Next, draw an airplane at a random location on the whiteboard heading toward the holding fix.

    Keep in mind the three types of entries but forgetting the AIM-angle numbers, pick the type of AIM entry that seems most reasonable to you. Chances are you are going to pick the “right” one. Keeping the same pattern, change the location of your airplane to different random points all around the whiteboard. Most folks who claim to have trouble with hold entries, pick the “right” one just about every time.

    For an example, here is “hold southwest of the VOR on the 220° radial, left turns.” You can see the airplane coming in from the northwest. Is the AIM entry obvious to you just looking at it? If it is, you are probably on your way. If it’s not, you’ll need another mentid for understanding.

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  2. Mark Kolber on May 01, 2016

    Didn;t accept the link to the graphic, so here it is: http://midlifeflight.net/posted/draw_hold.gif

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  3. John D Collins on May 01, 2016

    Some things to consider, draw the holding pattern on the chart or visualize where it is located. Teardrop and parallel entries start out with the aircraft approaching the holding fix on opposite sides of the holding radial.

    Parallel entry always starts out with the aircraft on the same side of the holding radial as the racetrack. You cross the holding fix and end up on the opposite side of the inbound course that the race track is on. If you turn to parallel the outbound heading, it will always need to make two turns, opposite to the direction of the hold. IOW, for a right hand holding pattern, you turn left to the outbound heading and after a minute make a big left turn of 225 degrees to intercept the inbound course. In the process of the turn, you cross over the inbound course and then intercept it at the end of the big turn. It is sort of like a reverse tear drop.

    A Teardrop entry always starts out with the aircraft on the opposite side of the holding radial as the racetrack. You cross the holding fix and end up on the same side that the race track is on. You now have to do some math, and turn to a heading that is 30 degrees less (more) than the outbound heading for a right (left) hand pattern. It may be a left, right turn or straight ahead. It should always take you catty corner across the hold and after a minute you do a 210 degree turn in the direction of the hold back to intercept the inbound course. I find that students have the most trouble with performing tear drop entries because of the math involved and the fact that the initial turn can be in either direction, if one is needed at all.

    For a right hand pattern, direct entries are easy to fly, two right turns. Parallel entries are also easy to fly, two left turns. The first turn is always to the outbound heading and is the shortest way to turn to the outbound heading. Most important fact to know as you are approaching the hold is what is the direction of the outbound heading. At a VOR, this will always be the same as the radial you are holding on. While you are flying outbound on the entry, you should have plenty of time to set the OBS to the inbound course, which is usually the reciprocal of the VOR radial. Holding at fixes can be more difficult, but as long as you are able to determine where the hold is located, direction of turns, and what the outbound heading is, they are relatively easy to master.

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