Features

November 2009 Issue

The Forgotten Maneuver

The early stages of a go-around or missed approach is when many stall/spin accidents occur. Why the most critical time during a go-around is the first 60 seconds.

Go-arounds (sometimes called rejected landings) are something of a "forgotten maneuver" for most pilots. I think this is because the go-around is something we’re taught as a way to fly away from a botched landing. As we gain more experience and get better at landing, we find ourselves needing this escape route less frequently. The psychology of pilots is such that we try to "recover" from our mistakes, so we also tend to try to turn bad landings into good ones with a nudge of the throttle, a tap on the rudder pedal, or a twist of the controls instead of powering up and climbing away for another try. Instructors can fall into the same trap. Failing to see a reason for a go-around in their experienced students’ landings, they might not require demonstration of a go-around during a flight review or other recurrent training. If the pilot receiving instruction is instrument-rated, the CFI may consider flying a missed approach to be adequate to demonstrate go-around technique. I must admit for a time I was in that camp as well. When was the last time you practiced a go-around? With experience, ego and unenlightened instruction, it may have been a very long time. So what happens on the day something completely outside the span of your expert aircraft control requires you to call off the landing from a point very near (or even on) the ground?

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