Once ATC have assigned me a holding pattern, how do I determine where to intercept it?

And once that I have determined the intercept point, how do I proceed?

I have heard about the teardrop and the parallel entries, are there others? How do I select the most appropriate entry?

During the intercept maneuver, can I assume[1] that the appropriate airspace is free (since ATC told me to intercept that hold) or there is high risk of coming close to other aircrafts?

[1] this does not mean that I will not look at the radar/out of the window, is just to know the level of attention that I have to pay to this aspect.


1 Answer 1


to source from wikipedia:

There are three standard types of entries: direct, parallel, and offset (teardrop). The proper entry procedure is determined by the angle difference between the direction the aircraft flies to arrive at the beacon and the direction of the inbound leg of the holding pattern.

  • A direct entry is performed exactly as it sounds: the aircraft flies directly to the holding fix, and immediately begins the first turn outbound.
    enter image description here
  • In a parallel entry, the aircraft flies to the holding fix, parallels the inbound course for one minute outbound, and then turns back, flies directly to the fix, and continues in the hold from there.
    enter image description here
  • In an offset or teardrop entry, the aircraft flies to the holding fix, turns into the protected area, flies for one minute, and then turns back inbound, proceeds to the fix and continues from there.
    enter image description here

As you can see the maneuvers are all inside the area circumscribed by the holding pattern (not counting flying directly to the holding fix) so you can assume the airspace is clear at your altitude.

Important to note is that you should fly directly to the beacon and then reorient yourself as appropriate.

The airport approach charts will indicate where the beacons/landmarks are located, which code they use and which heading the "inbound" leg (when flying towards the beacon) has.

  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak Before I retired in 1999, a standard holding pattern entry was recommended but not required. Is that still the case or is a standard entry now mandatory? $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 15:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Terry it is still the same AFAIK. In practice, fly whatever entry you want. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 16:00
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Federico if the hold isn't published on a chart (approach or IFR enroute) the fix will always be given referenced to a published fix that is most likely already on your route of flight. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 16:02

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