The holding pattern is a defined area of space where aircraft are required to hold while
enroute or awaiting their clearance for approach to an airfield. All aircraft given the same
holding instructions must fly the same pattern separated only by altitude. Holding is most
often required when weather conditions are such that you cannot maintain visual separation.
Therefore, it is essential that you understand holding entry and pattern procedures to avoid
midair collisions. Any flight terminating at the carrier at night will be required to hold until
their assigned push time (approach time) arrives.
Holding is the maneuvering of an aircraft in relation to 'a navigational fix while awaiting
further clearance. The STANDARD no-wind holding pattern is flown by following a specified
holding course (along a radial) inbound to the holding fix, making a 180° turn to the right,
flying a heading outbound to parallel the holding course (radial) and making another 180° turn
to the right to intercept and follow the holding course (radial) inbound to the fix. The holding
pattern is NONSTANDARD when the turns are made to the left. Unless published or
otherwise instructed by Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), aircrews are expected to
hold in a standard pattern. Because the primary navigation aid in the T-34 and T-39 is the
TACAN, most of your holding will be in relation to a TACAN radial and DME fix.
When you are assigned to hold in relation to a TACAN, the radial and DME of the holding
fix will be published (as on an approach plate) or will be assigned by ATC.
ATC clearances to holding generally consist of the following instructions if published
holding instructions are not available:
1. Direction of holding (compass point, relative to the fix)
2. Holding navaid
3. Radial and DME of the holding fix
4. Outbound leg lengths in NM, or the two outer limits (in NM) of the holding pattern
6. Direction of turns
7. Expected Further Clearance
An example of holding instructions follows:
"1F51, hold on the Navy Oceana 120°R/29 DME, from 29 to 39 miles, left turns. Maintain
15,000. Expect further clearance 2120Z."
Note that in this holding instruction the direction of holding is not stated, for it is implied in
the location of the holding fix and its relation to the outer limit of the holding pattern (Figure