Putting Holding Into Action

by HPA · December 6, 2011

Expect Further Clearance, Part II

By Hank Gibson, CFI, CFII, MEI

Holding Clearances and Reports

Before we dive into any holding scenarios, I want to address ATC communications within a hold. A lot of pilots have difficulty with what is in an official hold clearance, what needs to be read back, and when and what to report. First, the actual hold clearance. According to the Instrument Flying Handbook, this is what to expect in a holding clearance:

  • Direction of the hold from the fix referencing a cardinal direction (eg. N, S, NW, SW, etc.)
  • The actual holding fix (if not already specified)
  • The radial, bearing, course, airway, or route to hold on
  • If RNAV or DME is used, leg length in miles (a request can be made for leg length in minutes, but if none is specified, one minute legs are assumed)
  • Direction of turn (if none is specified, then right turns are assumed)
  • Expect Further Clearance Time (EFC) (A pilot must receive an EFC time in order for a hold to be legally performed) (10-11)

Here’s a brief blurb on EFC times. The reason an expect further clearance time is so important is in case of a communications failure. Most holds are either because of weather delays or ATC delays (eg. flying IFR into an uncontrolled airport with another plane going to the same airport in front of you while ATC waits for that airplane to cancel his IFR flight plan). So, the pilot knows the rest of his route after the hold, meaning in case communications fail, the pilot departs the hold and flies the rest of his route. The most important thing is that this is what ATC expects, too. It is vital to get the expect further clearance time.

Now, when in VMC conditions, a full hold clearance is not necessary. Also, regardless of IMC or VMC conditions, if a hold is actually published, the fix may be omitted from the clearance. Finally, once ATC issues the hold clearance, the pilot must read back the entire clearance. Have a pen or pencil handy so nothing is forgotten.

Students regularly miss the hold entry and exit reports. I regularly get on my students when entering holds because they forget to report the hold entry. Here’s the entry report:

  • “November 66 Bravo is entering the hold at the XYZ VOR at 3,000 feet at 2200 zulu”

And the exit report:

  • “November 66 Bravo is exiting the hold at the XYZ VOR at 3,000 feet at 2200 zulu”

Holding With the Autopilot

A G1000 equipped with a KAP 140 autopilot unfortunately does not fly a hold hands off. It is possible to use the autopilot to fly the hold, but it is not a simple set and watch situation. The only way to get the KAP 140 to fly a hold is to set the autopilot in heading mode and each turn, the pilot must move the heading bug to the new heading on either the inbound or outbound leg. The pilot is still responsible for keeping track of the time on each leg (or the distance, depending on what is being used to determine the length of the hold).

The KAP 140 still requires the pilot to figure out the hold entry, direction and turning. If the hold is in the G1000 database, this helps with the workload because the hold will show up on the MFD. Otherwise, it’s pencil and paper time!

Real Life

IFR Low Enroute Chart

Jesse is inbound to the Sand Springs airport on V140. A storm just hit the airport causing conditions to drop to zero/zero. ATC advises Jesse of this and tells him they have a hold clearance ready.

Jesse: “Stationair 7845, ready to copy”

ATC: “Stationair 7845, hold southeast of the Sears intersection on victor 532, left turns, maintain 4,000, left hand turns, expect further clearance 1845 zulu, time now 1815 zulu.”

Jesse: “Stationair 7845, hold southeast of Sears on victor 532, left turns, maintain 4,000, left turns, expect further clearance 1845 zulu, time now 1815 zulu.”

Jesse pulls out his chart to figure out the hold. It’s unpublished, so he finds the Sears intersection first. He is approaching on V140 from the west and the hold would be southeast of the intersection. Jesse draws the hold on his chart, which would be on the west side of V532. After drawing the hold, he figures out that it would be a parallel entry. Jesse enters the hold and flies outbound for a minute. Once he initially crosses the hold, he reports the entry to ATC.

Jesse: “Stationair 7845 is entering the hold at Sears, 4,000 feet, at 1820 zulu.:

ATC: “Stationair 7845, roger”

Once Jesse flies outbound for a minute on the airway, he makes a right hand, 225 degree turn to re-intercept the airway, flying inbound to the fix. After he passes the fix, he makes a left hand turn to fly outbound. Taking into account the wind, he flies outbound for a minute and fifteen seconds before turning inbound again. He makes three turns in holding before ATC instructs him to exit the hold and fly direct to the airport. Upon exiting the hold, Jesse reports the exit:

Jesse: “Stationair 7845, exiting the hold at Sears, 4,000 feet, 1837 zulu.”

Holding doesn’t have to be hard! With a little work and some art skills, it’s IFR made easy!

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

2022.06.09 11.19 Flyhpa 62a27fea7716a


The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).


At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

More about Randy here: https://www.flyhpa.com/team/randy-delong/


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