Flying with another pilot, or at least someone who can help you out in the cockpit is one thing, but flying single-pilot in IMC is another entirely.

There you are, keeping up with your instrument scan, monitoring your aircraft's systems, making sure you're on your correct NAV track, plus talking to ATC - you're busy as hell.

And that’s just in VFR conditions.

Throw in some actual weather and ATC delays and things start getting interesting. And while we're at it, let's make it night IMC and your autopilot also isn't working (for those of you that have difficulty flying an airplane without a working autopilot).  

Like most of us have at some point, you may be looking for a way to help you manage your workload during an IFR flight. One of the best tools you can use is the 6 T’s.  It's a simple solution, like a checklist, which will help you reduce the chance of missing something, keep you ahead of the airplane, and help you manage your workload in the cockpit.

THE 6 Ts

  • TURN
  • TIME
  • TALK

The 6 T’s can be used for precision and non-precision approaches, holding patterns, procedure turns, and damn near everything else.


Here's how to use the 6 Ts when flying a holding pattern. As you perform each step, be thinking about what the next step to complete after that is.

  • If you come to a step that doesn’t apply to the current segment you’re flying, just skip it and move on to the next one. 
  • When you complete each segment of the holding pattern, restart from step one on the next. 




  • Which direction are you turning in the holding pattern?
  • Standard or Non-Standard pattern: i.e. right or left turns?


  • Remember, unless otherwise stated by ATC, all inbound legs are one minute.
  • After crossing the fix or rolling wings level, begin your timer for 1 minute.
  • Remember to adjust your outbound leg so the inbound leg will be 1 minute. Depending on wind direction and speed, you may have an outbound leg LONGER that 1 minute.


  • If it's a holding pattern based on a VOR, you may need to twist the OBS to the inbound course or the outbound course.
  • Are you flying TO the VOR or AWAY from the VOR? If the inbound leg is TO the VOR, make sure to twist the OBS so the indicator shows a "TO" indication and the correct inbound course is selected.


  • Do you need to adjust the power setting to Increase or decrease your airspeed?
  • If your timing isn't correct for the inbound leg, then you need to either apply power or reduce power.


  • Do you need to talk to ATC?
  • Besides the normal required reports, ATC may ask you to report something else.


  • This one is simple, but it gets forgotten a lot. Sometimes pilots get so focused on everything else they forget to track their course and wind up on the non-holding side of the pattern.  So, remember that you still need to fly the airplane and track the course you’re supposed to be on.


Use the 6 T's the next time you go flying and you'll definitely see the benefits.  And to make it easier, download this free kneeboard card which you can print and take with you on your next flight.


Easily set up and brief instrument approaches, stay ahead of the airplane, and make holding patterns a breeze with this handy kneeboard card!
If you're looking for a way to help you manage your workload during an IFR flight. One of the best tools you can use is the 6 T’s. Here's how it can help...
Shawn Hardin
Shawn is a Commercial Pilot and active Flight Instructor. You can read more about him here.
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