Holding Pattern Entries

The three holding pattern entries are designed so that an aircraft can enter a hold without excessive maneuvering.

Which way should you enter a hold?

Look at your hold diagram (or visualize it), and consider the direction at which you are approaching the fix. Depict a 70º line relative to the holding course. Relative to the holding course, if you are approaching close to the direction of the holding course-as depicted by the gray area on the picture-you should make a direct entry. From the opposite side of the fix (blue area), make a teardrop entry, and from the hold side but in the opposite direction (green area), make a parallel entry.

Direct entry

A direct entry is most common, because it applies for half of the directions (180º) at which a fix might be approached, and it's simple: after crossing the fix, start your turn to the outbound heading, and the holding pattern is begun. For standard or nonstandard holds, this entry usually applies if the holding course is behind you when you first cross the fix.

Teardrop entry

After crossing the holding fix (from the opposite side), turn to maintain a 30º angle to the inbound course. Fly for about a minute, and then turn to rejoin the inbound course.

Parallel entry

On crossing the fix, turn to a heading that parallels the holding course. Fly for a minute, and then turn toward the hold side and rejoin the inbound course to proceed to the fix.

Nonstandard holds

A standard holding pattern means going in a clockwise direction, with turns to the right. A plane flying in a nonstandard hold would make turns to the left, and hence go counter-clockwise.

The instructions for entering are mirrored/reversed if the holding pattern is nonstandard.