April 2009 Issue

Gusty Go Around

The go-around from a balked landing, even in a gusty crosswind, shouldn’t be this hard.

One of the first things student pilots learn—right about the time they’re learning to land—is how to go around. If they’re like me, they got a lot of practice adding full power and reconfiguring the airplane in those first few frantic hours. Early in my flying career, I learned the airplane’s configuration mattered. I was flying a Cessna 150, with wing flaps that were fully deployed at 40 degrees. Some other Cessnas I’ve flown could only muster 30 degrees, a design change the company presumably made because it didn’t affect landing distance all that much while making go-arounds easier. That well-worn 150 also didn’t have pre-select detents in its flap switch as later Cessnas do. When asking for all 100 of those ponies to carry me and my instructor over the threshold and up for another trip around the pattern, I was holding full throttle, re-trimming and "milking" up the flaps while maintaining heading and airspeed, listening to the instructor’s critique of my aborted approach. It could be a busy time, especially if the instructor felt like introducing a system failure. Those were the days. A go-around in each airplane I’ve flown since is always some variation on that same basic theme. But the workload varies. For example, there often is landing gear or a prop control to add into the mix, along with manual "Johnson" bar wing flaps that can be immediately retracted or the slower-than-Christmas electric variety. Don’t forget carb heat or cowl flaps.

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