There you are, keeping up 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.The 6 T’s of Instrument Flying

Throw in some actual weather and ATC delays and things start getting interesting.

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 for this 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

  • 1. TURN
  • 2. TIME
  • 3. TWIST
  • 5. TALK
  • 6. TRACK

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


For this discussion, let’s run through 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, just skip it and go to the next step. 




After crossing over the holding fix, which direction are you turning in the holding pattern?

Is it a Standard or Non-Standard pattern: i.e. right or left turns?


After crossing the fix or rolling wings level, begin your timer for 1 minute.

You will need to plan for, and adjust your outbound leg so the inbound leg will be 1 minute. 

So depending on wind direction and speed, you’re outbound leg could be LONGER than 1 minute.

Remember, unless otherwise stated by ATC, all inbound legs are one minute.


If your holding pattern is 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 on the inbound leg, you’ll need to either apply power or reduce power to adjust your airspeed as needed.


Do you need to talk to ATC?

Besides the normal required reports, ATC may ask you to report something else.


This seems pretty 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 its 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!

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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...
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