Flying Ad-Hoc Holds with a GTN 750

Garmin plans to release updated system software (version 6.x) for the GTN series of navigators in February 2016. The software includes several new features, including the ability to create an ad-hoc hold at any fix.

To learn about and practice using the new features, download the latest version of the free GTN 750 PC Trainer Lite from Garmin. The download includes updated manuals (PDFs) for the GTN series avionics that describe the new features in version 6.x.

I have experimented with the new holding features in the simulation, and it seems simple and intuitive.

Creating a Hold (as Published)

Suppose, for example, that ATC clears you to hold as published at an en route fix such as CARRO intersection, located southwest of Seattle along V27.


As this close-up view shows, a standard (right turns, one-minute inbound leg) holding pattern is charted southwest of CARRO at the 24 nm DME fix on SEA 230 radial (or the intersection of the SEA 230 and OLM 346 radials).


That en route hold isn’t in the GTN 750 database, however (it’s not part of an departure, arrival, or approach). If you were flying along V27 with the current version of the GTN system software and instructed to fly the hold, you would proceed to CARRO, select the OBS feature, set the inbound course on your HSI to 050 degrees and fly the hold using the heading bug and a timer.

The forthcoming software automates that process, as the following captures from the GTN trainer show.

Assume you’re flying V27 northeast, toward SEA.


On the flight plan page in your GTN 750, touch CARRO (one of the fixes along the airway). The Waypoint Options menu appears. Hold At Waypoint is one of the new options.


Touch Hold at Waypoint. The Hold at Waypoint menu appears.


Touch the appropriate buttons (Course, Direction, Turn, etc.)  in series to enter the information required to fly the hold as cleared by ATC. As you can see, the Hold at Waypoint menu includes options such as Direction (to specify either the inbound or outbound course to or from the fix), Leg Time (or Distance for RNAV or DME holds), Turn (direction of turns in the hold), and Expect Further Clearance time (which sets a reminder that will appear when the EFC time arrives).

When you finish entering the required information, touch Load Hold. The GTN adds the hold as a waypoint in your active flight plan.


When you return to the map screen, the GTN 750 shows the hold you created drawn on the map.


As you continue inbound to the holding fix (CARRO), the hold becomes the active leg in your flight plan, and, because this is a timed hold, an automatic timer appears on the CDI display.


Note that GTN 750 enters SUSP mode as you enter the hold. And as you proceed outbound, the timer begins counting up as you pass abeam the fix on the outbound leg.


The timer resets as you join the inbound leg.


When you are cleared to leave the hold, touch the CDI display to return to the flight plan page, select the next fix in your route (or enter a new fix, depending on your clearance), and proceed. The GTN 750 switches out of SUSP mode and resumes normal waypoint sequencing.

A True Ad-Hoc Hold

The preceding example shows how to add a published hold along an airway to a route. Now let’s try a true ad-hoc hold at a fix specified by ATC.

Assume you’re southeast of Seattle, heading roughly north en route to Boeing Field (KBFI).

ATC clears you to hold at BLAKO intersection, as shown below. Your instructions are to hold north of BLAKO on the 340 degrees course (160 degrees inbound), 4 nm legs, right turns, with an EFC of 2001 UTC.


On the flight plan page, add BLAKO as a waypoint (if it’s not already in your flight plan), and then touch BLAKO to display the Waypoint Options menu.


Touch each option and fill in the appropriate information to specify the hold. Then touch Load Hold.


The hold you created appears in the flight plan…


And on the map, complete with the recommended entry procedure.


If your GTN 750 is connected to an autopilot with GPSS capability, the autopilot can fly the entire hold, including the entry. Because this hold is based on distance, not time, the GTN 750 doesn’t show a timer on the CDI. Instead, it prompts you to turn inbound at the appropriate distance outbound from the holding fix.




I look forward to updating the GTN 750 in my Bonanza. I might even look forward to flying holds.

Sample Western U.S. Flight Routes

Many pilots are curious about routes to fly on longer trips around the western U.S. and to/from the West to destinations like Oshkosh (home of EAA AirVenture).

I’ve flown around the West and to Oshkosh many times over the years, in a variety of aircraft–usually normally aspirated piston singles. I’ve organized routes that I fly regularly into a Microsoft Excel workbook, which you can download from my public AviationDocuments folder at OneDrive, here. Look for the file named BruceAirPreferredRoutes.


Each entry includes a basic description and:

  • Links to information about the departure and destination airports (at
  • An overlay of the route on a VFR chart at
  • Basic statistics (distance, etc.)


The AircraftData tab (at the bottom of the worksheet window) contains basic information about the aircraft (e.g., KTAS and fuel burn) that link to the information in the main Routes tab. Edit the information in the AircraftData tab to match the data for the aircraft that you fly, and it will automatically populate the appropriate fields in the Routes tab, saving you the effort of manually filling in speeds, etc. for each route.

Keep in mind that these routes are general guidelines that may help you start planning trips in these areas. You should adjust them for the performance of the aircraft you fly, fuel stops, places you want to visit, terrain, and so forth. Obviously, weather and other factors (such as your personal preferences for leg lengths) also come into play.


Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

The Aviation Weather Center has released new Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation, described by the AWC:

The Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation are designed to provide meteorological information equivalent to the textual Area Forecast (FA) in a graphical format, as requested by the FAA. This product includes observations and forecasts valid for the continental United States that provide data critical for aviation safety, overlaid on high-resolution basemaps. Please note that the text-based Area Forecast is still being produced.

A tutorial on the new forecast is available here.

As FAA noted in a recent draft revision to  AC 00-45H, Aviation Weather Services:

The FA contains weather information in a format originally developed in the 1950s. By design, it carries a character count limitation and is prohibited from describing instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions over the CONUS and Hawaii (reserved for Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) and significant meteorological information (SIGMET)).

While the FA met aviation weather information needs for many years, today the National Weather Service (NWS) provides equivalent information through a number of better alternatives. Plans are to discontinue the six FAs covering the CONUS and one FA covering Hawaii, which will then be replaced by digital and graphical products produced by the NWS. No near-term changes are planned for the FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico. (Appendix E)

You can complete a survey about the new forecast here.

Drafts of New Aviation Weather Handbooks

FAA has issued drafts of new editions of AC 00-45H Aviation Weather Services and AC 00-6B Aviation Weather. (AOPA has background here; you can download PDFs of the draft ACs here [scroll to the bottom of the list]).

In the introduction to the draft of Aviation Weather Services, the FAA notes that:

In the past decade, access to aviation weather products has greatly improved with the increase of flight planning services and weather Web sites. The experience of listening to a weather briefing over a phone while trying to write down pertinent weather information becomes less tolerable when the reports are easily obtainable on a home computer, tablet computer, or even a smart phone. To see weather along your route using a graphic of plotted weather reports combined with radar and satellite is preferable to trying to mentally visualize a picture from verbalized reports.

Although most of the traditional weather products, which rolled off the teletype and facsimile machines decades ago, are still available, some are being phased out by the National Weather Service (NWS) in favor of new, Web-based weather information.

It is the objective of AC 00-45H to bring the pilot and operator up to date on new and evolving weather information and capabilities to help plan a safe and efficient flight, while also describing the traditional weather products that remain.

Online aviation weather information is easy to access, and so are references explaining the information. That is why AC 00-45H contains fewer illustrations and less detail for products available online. This AC will give an overview and direct the pilot where to find more weather information and explanatory details…

One of the major forthcoming changes is the elimination of most area forecasts (FA).

Here’s part of what Appendix E from the draft AC 00-45H says about FAs:

The FA contains weather information in a format originally developed in the 1950s. By design, it carries a character count limitation and is prohibited from describing instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions over the CONUS and Hawaii (reserved for Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) and significant meteorological information (SIGMET)).

While the FA met aviation weather information needs for many years, today the National Weather Service (NWS) provides equivalent information through a number of better alternatives. Plans are to discontinue the six FAs covering the CONUS and one FA covering Hawaii, which will then be replaced by digital and graphical products produced by the NWS. No near-term changes are planned for the FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico.

These weather forecast products (described elsewhere in this document), to be consulted in lieu of the FA, together provide information similar to that found in the FA. The information often is in greater resolution and with the added benefit of graphical depiction. They include:

  • Significant weather (SIGWX) charts (see subparagraph 5.16),
  • Aviation forecast discussions (see subparagraph 5.19.1),
  • Terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAF) (see subparagraph 5.10),
  • AIRMETs (see subparagraph 5.2),
  • National digital forecast databases (see subparagraph 5.19.2),
  • Cloud top height forecast graphics (see subparagraph 5.19.3), and
  • Cloud layer products (see subparagraph 5.19.4).

Latest Update on VOR Decommissioning Program

The latest update from FAA on its plans to decommission VORs includes the following details:

  • Decommission approximately 30% (308) of the current 957 VORs by 2025
  • 74 VORs will be shut down during phase 1 (FY2016 through FY2020)
  • Another 234 VORs will be decommissioned during phase 2 (FY2021 – FY2025)
  • Of the 308 VORs to be shut down, 15 will be in the West, 162 in the central U.S., and 131 in the East.
  • 649 VORs will remain in operation after 2025, forming the minimum operational network (MON).

The goals established for the MON include allowing pilots to:

  • Revert from PBN to conventional navigation in the event of a Global Positioning System (GPS) outage;
  • Tune and identify a VOR at an altitude of 5,000 feet or higher;
  • Navigate using VOR procedures through a GPS outage area;
  • Navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles to fly an Instrument Landing System (ILS) or VOR instrument approach without Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), surveillance, or GPS; and
  • Navigate along VOR Airways especially in mountainous terrain where surveillance services are not available and Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEAs) offer lower altitude selection for options in icing conditions.

Progress will be slow initially. Only 5 VORs are to be shut down by September 2016. Another 4 navaids will be decommissioned by September 2017, followed by 4 more through September 2018. In 2019, FAA plans to shut down an additional 25 VORs, followed by 36 more in 2020.

Phase 2 begins in FY2021. A total of 234 VORs will be shut down through 2025.

You can read more details about the MON plan in the minutes of the 15-02 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum.


Update to AC 61-98

FAA has published AC 61-98C: Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check. This document supplants the previous edition, published in 2012.

Most of the document appears to be an update to reflect changes to references and online resources. But instructors and pilots should note that the AC now recommends that pilots submit a form 8710-1 when they complete a flight review or instrument proficiency check.


a. Revised Airman Application Form. The FAA frequently updates FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, to meet the needs of the airmen certification process and the aviation community. CFIs, pilots, and stakeholders should note that the latest Form 8710-1 contains enhancements that include a new field for a flight review and another for IPC.

b. Flight Review and IPC. When a pilot satisfactorily completes a flight review or IPC, the applicant should provide, and the evaluating CFI should submit, a completed Form 8710-1 to the Airmen Certification Branch (AFS-760). The FAA does not require Form 8710-1 for a pilot’s flight review or IPC; however, the FAA strongly encourages all applicants and CFIs to follow this recommendation. An airman certificate application updates a pilot’s FAA record. Pilots should ensure that their data is current because up-to-date records benefit everyone. For example, a pilot’s total flight time and aeronautical experience determines insurance premiums. If a pilot loses his or her logbook, an FAA record is on file and available. Nevertheless, submitting Form 8710-1 for a flight review or IPC is optional.

c. Preferred Method. The preferred method for submitting an Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application is through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system. The FAA did not have the IACRA system updated at the time of this publication; but the latest Form 8710-1 iteration will soon be available in IACRA. IACRA is the web-based certification/rating application that guides the user through the FAA’s airman application process. IACRA validates data. It also uses electronic signatures to protect the information’s integrity and eliminates paper forms.

You can find the IACRA homepage at

You can find FAA Form 8710-1 online at


List of Next VORs to be Decommisioned

FAA has published a list of the next VORs to be decommissioned as part of its plan to establish a minimum operational network (MON) of the ground-based navigation aids. The list is part of a news item at AOPA that explains the process.

Most of the 35 VORs on this list are in the eastern two-thirds of the continental U.S. Only one, ECA, is in the West, near Stockton, CA.

You can find more background the FAA’s plan to decommission VORs  at BruceAir, here.



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