Holding Pattern Entry Procedures
How do I enter a Holding Pattern?
There are 3 main recommended holding pattern entries outlined in the FAR/AIM. Direct entries, teardrop, and parallel entries are standard practice. Depending on the type of entry you will use, the following procedures can be used to execute the hold entry.
- Upon reaching the holding fix, turn in the direction of assigned turns to the heading for your outbound leg.
- Fly this leg for 1 minute and than turn in the direction of turns assigned to the heading for your inbound leg and intercept your assigned holding radial.
- Upon reaching the holding fix, turn to parallel the inbound course on an outbound heading for 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, turn toward the protected side (holding area) and intercept the holding radial inbound on an inbound heading. Upon reaching the fix, begin holding procedures.
- Upon reaching the holding fix, turn 30° toward the protected side (holding area) and fly for 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, begin a turn back to intercept the assigned holding radial inbound to the holding fix.
How do I pick which holding entry to use?
There are many different methods for this and all sorts of holding pattern computers you can buy. I've found one method that works for determining entries and you can do it quickly. After a little practice you can determine a holding entry in seconds and not be bogged down or distracted in the cockpit while you have more important matters to worry about.
The following steps only work if you are established tracking towards the VOR where your assigned hold begins and you are on a heading that is holding your radial.
Step #1: Draw the hold
Avoid drawing this on paper! Drawing the holding pattern assigned on paper causes more distractions in the cockpit than is necessary. A better method I have found is to draw the assigned hold directly on the face of the Heading Indicator / Directional Gyro with your finger. Note: For this to work properly, the heading that you will enter the hold on must be your current heading displayed on your DG. So in other words, if you will have to make some heading changes or turn before reaching your holding fix, this method will not give you the proper results.
Example: Portland Approach assigned a hold on the 090° Radial, right turns.
- Start with your finger on the outer edge of the HI/DG at 090° and draw a straight line to the center of the indicator. The middle of the instrument (often displayed as an airplane) in the center of the HI/DG represents the VOR or holding fix.
- Upon reaching the middle of the instrument (still drawing with your finger), turn in the direction assigned, in this case to the right. If you continue to draw the holding pattern, you can determine what the holding pattern looks like in front of you as you track TO the station.
- Remember: As you track TO the station, by looking at what radial is centered up at the bottom of the VOR indicator you can read which radial you are established on. By drawing the hold as described in the above method, you can see your position in relation to the holding pattern and increase your situational awareness as you approach the holding fix.
*Watch the video below and it should help to clear up the confusing explanation above*
Step #2: Determine the type of Holding Entry to use.
For this, bisect the Directional Gyro in the following method:
- To help envision the above pattern on the face of the DG, just use a pen and hold it across the face of the instrument at an approximate 45° angle. The high side of the pen goes to the right of the instrument for right turn holds and then to the left of the instrument if they are left turn holds. All you are doing is bisecting the instrument to show you what pattern you will use to enter the hold.
- After you have done this, look at where your assigned radial falls, and depending on which section it is, this is what hold entry you will fly. To return to the example, if when you hold your pen up to the DG and 090° falls into the Teardrop slice, you will fly a Teardrop entry. Or, if it falls into any other category, you will fly the associated entry procedure.
Step #3 - Determine headings to turn to and direction of turns to complete the entry procedure.
Once you arrive at the holding fix, you need to know which way you are turning and what heading you are turning to in order to execute the entry procedure. Having this figured out before you arrive at the holding fix is often forgotten, but necessary to stay ahead of the plane while you setup the hold. Having drawn out the hold on the VOR earlier will help you figure this out. Remember, your turns must keep you on the protected side, or the holding area, at all times. Determine if you will use right or left turns to enter the hold, and determine what headings to turn to.
Follow these three steps in that order and you will be performing hold entries quickly and confidently with minimal effort and distraction!
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