Holding Procedures


Gain the skills associated with holding procedures solely by reference to instruments.


This is the required reading for this lesson. Numbers in [brackets] indicate the starting and ending page in the referenced reading material. Read all the pages and sections referenced.


The notes below highlight the important parts in the referenced material. Reading the notes without having read the actual referenced material is generally not sufficient to pass the written exam!

IFH - Chapter 10

  • The "default" holding pattern is
    • At or below 14,000 feet - Right turns, 1 minute straight legs
    • Above 14,000 feet - Right turns, 1.5 minute straight legs
  • Maximum speed in the hold (unless otherwise depicted on chart or directed by ATC) is
    • At or below 6,000 feet - 200 KIAS
    • 6,000 to 14,000 feet - 230 KIAS
    • Above 14,000 feet - 265 KIAS
  • Instructions for ATC directed holds will include four to six of the following items:
    • The hold fix to be used
    • A cardinal direction (north, east, south, west, or some combination thereof) representing which side of the fix you should hold on
    • The course for the inbound leg
    • The turn direction (sometimes given as "standard" = right, "non-standard" = left), or, if not given, right is assumed
    • The leg length (sometimes given as "standard" = one minute / 1.5 minutes as applicable), or if not given, the appropriate one is assumed
    • "Expect further clearance"; either a number of minutes or a Zulu time at which you can expect to be given further instructions
  • The recommended way to enter a standard hold depends on the angle from which you are initially approaching the hold fix:
    1. Parallel entry
      • Entering along the outbound course or up to plus 110 degrees
    2. Teardrop entry
      • Entering along the outbound course or up to minus 70 degrees
    3. Direct entry
      • Entering the inbound course heading minus 70 degrees to plus 110 degrees

      Holding Entry

  • All turns during the hold should be
    • 3 degrees per second (standard rate hold), or
    • 30 degree bank angle, or
    • A bank angle provided by the flight director

Sim Pilot Notes

These notes highlight the differences between simulator and real-world flying. These differences are most often due to simulator limitations or specific VATSIM rules.

IFH - Chapter 10

  • Holds on VATSIM are less common but can be encountered during busy events

Tomas Hansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Chief Flight Instructor, VATSTAR
DISCLAIMER: all information contained herein is for flight simulation purposes only.
March 2021

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