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Training and Safety Tip: When in doubt, go around

Many years ago, I heard an old U.S. Air Force slogan, “When in doubt, bail out.” That is exactly what the rejected landing procedure—commonly known as a go-around—is about.

Photo by Chris Rose.

Applicants for every FAA certificate and rating are required to demonstrate their ability to abandon the approach to a landing. A go-around may be necessary for various reasons, such as an airplane, vehicle, or wildlife on the runway, or some other unexpected condition.

ATC may instruct you to go around. But a go-around is also an option you initiate to recover from a less-than-perfect landing attempt, such as a ballooned landing or a crosswind exceeding your or the airplane’s limitations. Making the go-around decision provides you with two options: Fly the traffic pattern for another landing attempt or divert to an alternate airport with a more favorable runway. Once you’re over the runway, you must be prompt to take decisive action or the option to go around will quickly pass.

FAA training requirements specify that you receive training and demonstrate rejected or aborted landing procedures prior to your solo flight and your checkride. It is important to review the go-around procedure, which can be initiated at any altitude from 500 feet on final approach to the landing roundout, or flare.

When you decide to go around, immediately apply takeoff power and pitch for a climb attitude. Remember, the purpose is to gain a safe altitude. Full power will require some right rudder to counter torque and P factor. Remember to close carburetor heat to achieve full power.

If you had flaps extended during landing, they need to be brought up incrementally as airspeed increases. As elevator trim was set nose-up for landing, you now will need to add some nose-down trim during the climb.

This can be a busy few seconds. But once you have the airplane under control, it is time to announce that you are going around. You should always be prepared mentally and physically to initiate a go-around for safety of the flight.

Ed Helmick

Ed Helmick has been a flight instructor since 1988. He formerly managed a flight school in Spanish Fork, Utah, as well as schools in Scottsdale, Arizona; and Honolulu, Hawaii.
Topics: Training and Safety, Collision Avoidance, Situational Awareness
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