Second Attempt with Practice Prevails

Unpublished Holds – Easier to learn them “Hands-On” than reading out of a Textbook.

I am plugging away at different aspects of the instrument portion in my flight training. My Instructor Matt Dannecker and I have accomplished tracking to various waypoints using all the navigational equipment that we have available in the aircraft. We have covered: VORs, NDBs using ADF, GPS Usage, and reverse sensing on a Localizer. In addition to tracking and doing various holding work with NDBs, we have also flown quite a few precision and non-precision instrument approaches into various airports around the Twin Cities. The type of holding that was performed yesterday is probably the most difficult to grasp as we chose the (KEYEN Intersection) and the (PIKAW Intersection) to practice Unpublished Holding. ATC will most likely not assign an unpublished hold unless absolutely necessary when requiring mandatory traffic separation. [ Nick, a C560 Pilot at Elliott Aviation that I have to opportunity to work with informed me that in his entire professional career, he has only been assigned TWO unpublished holds. That just goes to show that these are more directed towards understanding how such procedures are conducted as well as a pilot aptitude test. Screenshot_2016-08-05-10-28-38

I will briefly give a written and visual overview of how our flight was conducted as we departed out of Crystal Airport (KMIC) and flew direct to both the KEYEN and PIKAW intersection to perform unpublished holding in the C172 (N2436N).

I arrived at MIC around 1630 UTC and did the usual preflight on N2436N. Luckily Thunderbird Aviation placed the aircraft back inside of the hangar, conveniently alleviating us from putting up with the humid and hot conditions Minnesota has kindly provided as a kick off to the month of August. After preflighting, Matt and I sat down and quickly did a briefing on how the flight would be conducted so that we are both on the same page and understand the lesson plan. During this briefing, we went over the proper hold entry required and drew a couple visual diagrams making for less work once we get in the air. Both entries into the holds at both KEYEN and PIKAW will be Parallel entries since we are approaching the race-track-like pattern and are requested to make right turns only.

IMG_0276.PNG We hopped in the plane and quickly got the ball rolling as I taxied over to Runway 32L via taxiways Alpha and Echo before performing the runup and finally holding short the active, ready for departure. The takeoff was uneventful other than a bit of light chop as the winds were 290 @ 15 kts and Gusting up to 27 kts. I entered the KEYEN intersection into the Bendix King GPS and selected a Direct course to the fix while climbing up to 3,000 feet. Matt gave me simulated ATC instructions: “Hold at the KEYEN intersection on 090, right turns.” I received the TO / FROM flip indication on the GPS slaved VOR and made sure that I put the GPS in OBS mode so that it understands that we don’t want to sequence onto another flight leg upon arrival at the intersection.


Once established in the hold, everything made a bit more sense in comparison to my first attempt where I relied on Matt Danicker and my roommate who recently obtained his CFI had to provide very clear and concise instructions for each leg of the pattern. I now understand that the timer should only be started once you are abeam the fix and receive the FROM / TO flip allotting 1 minute for the outbound leg before performing a standard rate turn 180 degrees before starting the timer once again and also verifying that by the time the fix is reached, that leg of the hold will also be right aro
und 1 minute. (Unfortunately, we had roughly a 30 to 40 knot winds aloft at 3,000 feet and ended up time the outbound leg right around 1 min 40 seconds with a ground speed of 95 knots before turning inbound and hoping to achieve a 1 minute leg with a ground speed of 135 knots.)

flying a patterns at the KEYEN intersection, we broke it off and went direct to the PIKAW intersection where we did the same exact procedure, except the timing of the legs was opposite due to holding on the North side of PIKAW in comparison to holding on the South side of KEYEN. After a few l
aps in the pattern we then again broke it off and flew direct back to Crystal. (We slaughtered a massive bug of some sort making a mess on the windscreen. Why are bugs that big hanging out at 3,000 feet?!?)


MIC Tower cleared us for a left downwind approach IMG_0279for runway 32L in which I was getting a ground speed of around 145 knots (Fastest I have ever seen in a C172). As I descended down to traffic pattern altitude, the turbulence increased and made for a bumpy downwind – base – to final turn. On short final, tower called off the winds at 270 @ 14 kts and gusting 28 kts leaving me to make the decision of keeping up my airspeed since I had fluctuations in airspeed by almost 15 knots! After dropping below the trees and into the clearing, we seemed to just drop like a rock and I slowly pulled the power to idle sending us right where we wanted to be over the numbers. Right around ten feet off the runway I dropped like a rock at 65 knots and full flaps forcing me to really yank hard on the yoke surprisingly resulting in a gentle touchdown of the mains and turning off onto taxiway Echo with a ground roll of around 400 feet.

Hopefully, everybody is doing well in their own training and enjoys reading about my own experiences.  If you enjoyed reading my blog, please like, share or feel free to comment with any questions regarding aviation or the content in my blogs.  As always, fair winds and blue skies for everybody and look forwards to my next blog later this week!

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