Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

4 Answers

Holding Patterns

Asked by: 6645 views Instrument Rating

How to do a paralel entry to a holding pattern

Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Actual FAA Questions / Free Lifetime Updates
The best explanations in the business
Fast, efficient study.
Pass Your Checkride With Confidence!
FAA Practical Test prep that reflects actual checkrides.
Any checkride: Airplane, Helicopter, Glider, etc.
Written and maintained by actual pilot examiners and master CFIs.
The World's Most Trusted eLogbook
Be Organized, Current, Professional, and Safe.
Highly customizable - for student pilots through pros.
Free Transition Service for users of other eLogs.
Our sincere thanks to pilots such as yourself who support AskACFI while helping themselves by using the awesome PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android aviation apps of our sponsors.

4 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Mar 10, 2011

    Answer straight from page 10-12 of the current Instrumet Flying Handbook:

    Parallel Procedure. When approaching the holdingfi x from anywhere in sector (a), the parallel entry procedure would be to turn to a heading to parallel the holding course outbound on the nonholding side for 1 minute, turn in the direction of the holding pattern through more than 180°, and return to the holding

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. John D. Collins on Mar 10, 2011

    The two easiest ways to enter a holding pattern are using the direct entry and the parallel entry.  I say this, because in both cases the procedure doesn’t require any mental math. In all cases, one of the first steps is to determine the outbound heading for the holding pattern. Once you know the outbound heading, what to do when you arrive over the holding fix is straight forward. In this post, I will only discuss the basic actions (turns) you take to accomplish the maneuver and not the 5 T’s. Assume that you are to fly a standard holding pattern with right turns. 


    If you determine the entry is a direct entry, that is the simplest, cross the hold fix, turn right to the outbound heading, fly one minute, turn right (approximately 180 degrees) to intercept the inbound heading and track it to the hold fix. 


    If you determine the entry is a parallel entry, you will also make two turns, but they will both be in the opposite direction of the pattern.  So for a right hand pattern, the turns are to the left. Passing the hold fix, you turn left to the outbound heading (if you are already on the outbound heading, this turn isn’t needed), fly one minute and turn left approximately 225 degrees to intercept the inbound course and track it inbound.


    If you determine the entry requires a tear drop, you have to do some math, that is you have to subtract 30 degrees from the outbound heading (add 30 degrees for a left hand pattern).  Then, depending on your current heading as you approach the holding fix, you have to turn to the calculated heading.  This can be a left turn, or a right turn, or no turn at all.  If you are already on the outbound heading, a left turn will be required, if you are already on the outbound heading minus 30 degrees, no turn is required. Finally if your heading is more than 30 degrees from the outbound heading, you will turn right.  In all cases you turn to a calculated heading.


    I teach 4 entry methods, direct, parallel, tear drop, and confused.  The confused entry method still requires the pilot to determine the outbound heading.  It goes like this: Turn the shortest way possible to the outbound heading, fly one minute, turn the shortest way possible back to the holding fix, intercept and track the inbound course to the holding fix.  If worst comes to worst, you can now do a direct entry if you botch the confused entry.  The one important thing to remember is to make the turn inbound so that you remain on the holding side of the fix as there is a greater area of protected airspace on the holing side.


    Finally, a moving map display or drawing the hold on a chart or map will greatly aid in visualizing the hold.  Other good techniques are to visualize the hold on the DG or HSI.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Mark Sanderson on Mar 10, 2011

    As we all know, the visualization for the type of entry is the tricky part.  For the three FAA recommended entries direct, parallel and teardrop I use the following.
    Most pilots can visulaize a direct entry, and in fact a direct entry will be the method of entry a good percentage of the time.  But for parallel and teardrop just remember the memory aid – NIT NOP.  If the nose of the airplane will be pointing into the holding pattern as you approach it’s a teardrop entry (NIT – nose in – teardrop), if the airplane’s nose is pointing out of the holding pattern as you approach it’s a parallel entry (NOP – nose out – parallel).  Try it you’ll be amazed how easy it will now be to visulaize the entry without any math or pencils, thumbs, etc. on the HSI or DG.

    +5 Votes Thumb up 5 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  4. John D. Collins on Mar 10, 2011

    Now a days, with moving map displays, it can be much easier to determine the hold entry procedure that applies.  Before we had these aids, many of us used the “right pattern right thumb, or left pattern left thumb” method.  I will describe the method for a standard right hand holding pattern.  As always, the first step is to determine the outbound heading for the hold.  As you navigate direct to the hold fix, you place your right thumb on the right hand side of the DG or HSI on the 90 degree point so that the top of your thumb covers up about 20 degrees of the DG arc.  Now visualize a line drawn between the top of your thumb, thru the center of the DG, to the other side of the DG, and call this point P for parallel.  Locate the outbound heading on the DG.  If the outbound heading is between the top of your thumb and the current heading on your DG, the entry is a tear drop.  If the outbound heading falls between the top of the DG and point P on the other side of the DG. then the entry is a parallel entry.  If it falls anywhere else, you have a direct entry.


    This is easier to demonstrate with a DG than to describe.  For a non standard left hand pattern, the theory is the same, but you cover up 20 degrees of the DG with your left thumb at the left 90 degree point. If the outbound heading is between the top of your thumb and the top of the DG, it is a tear drop, between the top of the DG and point P, it is parallel, or otherwise it is direct.


    +2 Votes Thumb up 2 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.