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VFR Hold on Base Leg

Fly_Chick

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Today while entering the pattern, my student reported "Cessna 12345 left midfield downwind for RWY 30."

Tower told the student to "continue downwind, hold on the base leg."

This was the first I have heard this in an airplane. We have a lot of helicopter operations and they are often told to hold at a point outside the traffic pattern for spacing, especially if there is IFR traffic practicing approaches.

We have a helicopter with a very similiar call sign, ex: Helicopter 13345, so I said to tower "we are Cessna 12345." Tower replied "I understand you are Cessna, hold North on the base for incoming learjet on traffic on RWY 21." Our base leg was south of the landing runway.

Tower also had another plane on right midfield downwind whom he also told to hold on his base leg.

I had never heard this referenced before to airplane VFR in the pattern, usually we are told to extend our legs, do 360's, or 270's from one leg to another.

I could not find anything in the AIM nor the PCG particular to this. I know it is done in other countries, yet this was the first I heard of it here.

Any input on this?
 
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sqwkvfr

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I'm a little corn-fused here...

You're on a left downwind for RY 12 and your base leg is south of the landing runway?

Could you post a link to a diagram for your airport so I help my puny little mind visualize what you're saying?
 

Fly_Chick

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Sqwkvfr, you are right, it was RWY 30, not RWY 12. I just had a wrong visual in my mind. I'll edit the previous post. Thanks.
 

Flechas

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I think the controllers down there are so used to deal with helos that he just said it out of habit.
 

Fly_Chick

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Flechas said:
I think the controllers down there are so used to deal with helos that he just said it out of habit.

That is what I initially thought too, hence I stressed we were a Cessna, and the controller told me to continue holding. I even offered the right 360, and was declined and told to hold.

My main concern was for the student (pre-solo private) and wondering how confused the student would be (alone in the plane) given those instructions as we do not teach to "hold" on a pattern leg. Of course the students know to ask for clarification if they do not understand, yet this just seemed so out of the ordinary.
 

Flechas

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I've heard controllers ask someone to orbit over the field, south of the field or something like that.

Maybe it was just as simple as "wait around there"and we are looking to deep into it.

Very confusing for the student though.
 

sqwkvfr

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Flechas said:
I've heard controllers ask someone to orbit over the field, south of the field or something like that.

Maybe it was just as simple as "wait around there"and we are looking to deep into it.

Very confusing for the student though.
Or the commercial pilot. I'm lost here.

I guess I woulda just extended my downwind and waited for him to call base or exited the airspace, whichever came first.

What eventually happened, Fly Chick? Did he give an instruction to turn base or did he say something else?
 
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Fly_Chick

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We just did a right 360 on final. Then when he told us to exit holding and follow the aircraft on the right base, I told him I would like to do another 360 for spacing (per the AIM we have to inform them first on doing 360's in the pattern).

We could not extend downwind too much or else we would have been in a restricted area.

In all respect, the tower guy did come back and apologize for the confusion. I do have a good working relationship with Tower, and students frequently "tour the tower". Overall the Tower is very accomodating and understanding. I think they have a new guy who sometimes may revert to his military training (he often askes if we have the "interval" in sight").

Another instructor also had a student first solo today and the controller asked the student pilot if he could spell the name of the flight school. The student pilot responded "Yes." To which the tower controller asked him to spell out the name. I felt uncomfortable with that as an instructor, I thought that was a bit unnerving for the solo pilot. Why add more pressure on someone's first solo?

Just a wierd day...
 

Stepclimb

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Fly_Chick said:
We just did a right 360 on final. Then when he told us to exit holding and follow the aircraft on the right base, I told him I would like to do another 360 for spacing (per the AIM we have to inform them first on doing 360's in the pattern).

We could not extend downwind too much or else we would have been in a restricted area.

In all respect, the tower guy did come back and apologize for the confusion. I do have a good working relationship with Tower, and students frequently "tour the tower". Overall the Tower is very accomodating and understanding. I think they have a new guy who sometimes may revert to his military training (he often askes if we have the "interval" in sight").

Another instructor also had a student first solo today and the controller asked the student pilot if he could spell the name of the flight school. The student pilot responded "Yes." To which the tower controller asked him to spell out the name. I felt uncomfortable with that as an instructor, I thought that was a bit unnerving for the solo pilot. Why add more pressure on someone's first solo?

Just a wierd day...


It sounds like a friendly call to the folks in the tower cab is called for. I would ask for them to clarify what exactly they wanted you to do. Usually holding instructions are given to IFR aircraft and involve fixes, radials and EFC's. Tell them that you can find no reference to holding instructions given to VFR aircraft in the pattern in the AIM or 7110.65 and ask them where they came up with that particular phraseology.

Please let us know what they say....I'm intrigued to say the least....

 

sqwkvfr

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Fly_Chick said:
Another instructor also had a student first solo today and the controller asked the student pilot if he could spell the name of the flight school. The student pilot responded "Yes." To which the tower controller asked him to spell out the name. I felt uncomfortable with that as an instructor, I thought that was a bit unnerving for the solo pilot. Why add more pressure on someone's first solo?
When I was a student, a good portion of my fear was dealing with the tower. If the tower controller would have ribbed me a little, I'd have loosened up a lot.

But I can certainly see how the wrong student might not respond in a similar manner.
 

Dutch

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Hold in the pattern

I've had tower controllers ask me to do what you are saying but they used much better terminology. The instruction would be something like "Cessna 12345 make a left 360, report re-entering the downwind. This was a routine intruction on the crosswind, downwind and base legs. My experience was that the tower would issue this instruction on the downwind leg to allow for a company aircraft to execute a simulated instrument approach to minimums. Sounds like a poor choice of words to me.

Dutch
 

FracCapt

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Fly_Chick said:
Today while entering the pattern, my student reported "Cessna 12345 left midfield downwind for RWY 30."

Tower told the student to "continue downwind, hold on the base leg."

Where are you based? The only place I've heard something similar to this for VFR traffic is in PHX, where they have you "hold" on the downwind....but the runway numbers don't match, so you obviously weren't there.

Based on your comment about the restricted area, it sounds as if it's a non-standard thing that's required at that airport to keep traffic clear of the final for the inbound jet, and at the same time keep the traffic clear of the restricted area. He probably told you to hold on the base leg because he wanted room for others doing the same on the downwind. Just a guess...
 

aeronautic1

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I agree with Step Climb

Never heard oh that one.

----------------------------------------------------------

Thunderbirds........ are GO!!
 

johnpeace

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I've had tower controllers ask me to do what you are saying but they used much better terminology. The instruction would be something like "Cessna 12345 make a left 360, report re-entering the downwind.

Yeah, same here.

I did my PPL at a Class C airport with a LOT of helicopter traffic and this was pretty normal. They'd always say:
"Cessna 7332L extend your downwind, I'll call your base"
or
"Cessna 7332L make right 360 for separation"

I'm with stepclimb...go up there and ask them what they're talking about. I can't visualize how you would 'hold' without a fix, radial or bearing to hold on, etc.
 

Catbert

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If'n it were me, the next words out of my mouth would have been "uh.. tower, I have no idea what 'hold on the base leg' means. Could you clarify that a bit?"

Seriously, when I don't know, I ask. In plain English.
 
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777_Jackpot

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Fly_Chick said:
My main concern was for the student (pre-solo private) and wondering how confused the student would be (alone in the plane) given those instructions as we do not teach to "hold" on a pattern leg. Of course the students know to ask for clarification if they do not understand, yet this just seemed so out of the ordinary.

Yeah, now that you know that type of instruction could be issued to a student, I would be emphasizing with my students the importance of asking for clarification on a clearance if they don't understand it.
 

Fly_Chick

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Stepclimb said:
It sounds like a friendly call to the folks in the tower cab is called for.

Please let us know what they say....I'm intrigued to say the least....

Friendly call to the Tower today. Spoke to the manager, his only thoughts were the controller must have thought we were a helicopter. I did not want to argue the point, sometimes the less said, the better understood. I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page... I have a "feeling" this will be addressed.



I really do believe the most important point from all of this is to ask for specific clarification.
 

Ralgha

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When I was instructing, it was at an uncontrolled airport, but we frequently used the services of the local approach controllers in Eugene. I frequently called them up on the phone to discuss things, and had many an educating discussion for both sides. I also keep in email/phone contact with one of the controllers there even now and we exchange thoughts occasionally.

I have recently acquired the LAX tower phone number and may start to harass them in the same way *evil cackle*, or probably not. The did let me tour on short notice though.:D

ATC is great.
 
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