If you search around on the Internet, have an older copy of the Instrument Flying Handbook, or talk to a seasoned CFII, you may run across the concept of "pattern a" and "pattern b." These were exercises which involved tracking courses, flying procedure turns, hold entries and sometimes constant speed climbs and descents. They seem like valuable maneuvers for honing instrument flying skills.

At some point in the last several years they seem to have been removed from the Instrument Flying Handbook. I don't actually own an out-of-date copy of the handbook to verify this, but if they were removed I'm wondering if anyone knows why. Does the FAA frown upon the use of these maneuvers in training?

Beyond the question itself, I'd love to find a current publication that teaches pattern a and pattern b for reference.

  • $\begingroup$ This pattern originated from early Instrument flight training. There were two primary training patterns ( A and B), used to build onto the basic scan. This is a primer to reference approach plates, away from the approach environment. A student would now follow these instructions in addition to aircraft control. $\endgroup$
    – Les
    Jun 16, 2017 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


I can't say for sure, but I would assume that the pattern-based drills were removed because of the new emphasis on scenario-based ("real world") training the FAA has been moving toward: While Pattern A and Pattern B are useful for honing your skills (and I'll even admit they're kind of fun to fly) they're not something you'll fly in the "real world" - you are unlikely to string together that particular set of elements in that particular order on any kind of regular basis.

That doesn't mean the Pattern A / Pattern B maneuvers are not useful tools or that the FAA "frowns on" them - they really don't care how you acquire the skills necessary to pass your checkride and if flying Pattern A / Pattern B helps then by all means fly your heart out! Just know that when you take your checkride you will not be asked to "Fly Pattern B" - it's not an element of the practical test.

A copy of the maneuver diagrams for Pattern A and Pattern B can be found in Gleim's Additional Instrument Flight Maneuvers handout, which also has some valuable notes on how the maneuvers should be performed.

Personally I prefer the diagrams from Privilege Aero because I find them a little easier to read (Patterns A & B are listed as Patterns D & E respectively, except the Gleim version of Pattern B includes a descent & go-around at the end of the hold).

I've reproduced the Pattern E diagram below in case any of the links above break.
Pattern "E" (Pattern B)

  • $\begingroup$ That looks absolutely nothing like an "e"! $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Feb 11, 2016 at 15:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ To be fair it doesn't resemble an A or B either :) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Feb 11, 2016 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 I'm glad you posted that diagram when you did. Is Privilege Aero down? Or did that link never work? $\endgroup$
    – ryan1618
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ @ryan1618 and anyone else looking - after a lot of searching, I found the pattern diagrams matching the one posted above. Check here for the PDF. $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2019 at 3:43

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