If at first, you fail, then GO AROUND and try, try again.
There’s no shame in realizing your approach down to the runway isn’t looking so great (in fact its a true skill to be able to realize ahead of time when things aren’t going so hot), and electing to Go Around and try again, rather than try to save a botched approach and slam the airplane into the runway or worse.
So what is this “Go Around” maneuver?
A Go Around isn’t waving the airplane flying behind you around you to the left like you would on the interstate because you’re flying too slow.
A Go Around is a maneuver that can be executed at any altitude all the way down to the runway where the pilot applies full power, establishes a climb away from the ground, and configure the flaps and landing gear of the airplane appropriately (generally retracting flaps a few degrees and retracting the landing gear once climbing).
This maneuver is practiced, and used by pilots at all levels, from students, to commercial airline pilots and the military.
Why would I Go Around?
There are a number of factors that would make you want to do a Go Around, some of which are:
- Unstable approach, sinking too fast or not descending quickly enough to land in the first 1/3rd of the runway (or touchdown zone)
- Airspeed too fast or too slow
- Blow by the wind off of centerline
- Traffic or debris on the runway and not safe to land
- Loosing sight of your touchdown point
- Not in a good position to land using normal maneuvering (coming in too high or left or right of centerline)
- ATC (air traffic control) issuing you instructions to Go Around
- Your flight instructor or another pilot in the airplane telling you Go Around (they probably see danger you may not have realized yet)
- Winds above your personal minimums
- And anytime you feel it would be safer to climb back up to safety and keep flying rather than try to force the airplane down onto the ground (remember, airplanes are made to fly, they don’t always behave on the ground so well)
How to execute the maneuver:
Each airplane will have a specific published procedure for it that your flight instructor can explain in more detail. Here is a general way to execute a Go Around in many GA airplanes.
- Add full power (ensure carb heat is off and the mixture is set appropriately)
- Pitch to establish a climb at around Vx
- Retract flaps to a setting where the airplane will climb well without giving up too much altitude when you do retract flaps (generally this means going from 30 to 20 flap, or from 45 to 25 flap, depending on what airplane you are in)
- Accelerate and climb away from the ground (speeding up to Vy while still increasing your altitude, don’t try to speed up too quickly and give up altitude)
- Retracting flaps at a safe altitude and speed and determining if you want to try the landing on the same runway again or try a different runway or different airport with more favorable conditions.
Note: no mention of landing gear above since most GA training airplanes have fixed gear that does not retract. Always talk to your CFI and have them explain the proper way to execute a Go Around in the particular airplane you are flying.
Another “maneuver” to be done when things aren’t going so well is a rejected or aborted takeoff. While this may sound like a simple concept, when operating on short runways or rejecting a takeoff at highspeed when the airplane is “light on its feet” requires very precise control inputs to maintain directional control and ensure the airplane stops safely on the remaining runway.
You’ve got to land here son, this is where the food is.Landing signal officer to carrier pilot after his 6th unsuccessful landing