By Howard Deevers
The Go Around, also called a “rejected landing,” is a required item on most check rides for a rating. It Is also required training for pilots before they can be signed off for solo flight. After your Private Pilot check ride, the next time you might do a Go Around could be on your flight review, 2 years later.
Naturally, we expect to land each time we are approaching an airport of intended landing. And, if we have passengers, we want to show them our best stuff. Good landings are always impressive, even to other pilots. Why go around?
Going around should not be an embarrassment, although many people and pilots view it that way. Several years ago, a friend told me about being on an airline flight to Grand Junction, CO, and the plane went around twice before landing. The comment was: “I thought we were never going to land.” I asked if it was a windy day? “Oh, yes, and bumpy, too!” Then I told her that the pilot was a very good pilot and did the right thing, and if it was bad enough, he might have had to divert to another airport. The public never wants to hear that.
The truth is that the Go Around is a very good tool for us and available at any time, and we should practice it more often. On one of my flights into Chandler Airport, I was following a slower aircraft on the downwind leg. In order to give more spacing, I slowed to a slow flight configuration with full flaps. The tower cleared me to land, and I turned to final checking for the correct runway. Flying a Piper Arrow, the tower called and said, “Check gear down.” I had gotten busy in the pattern and had not completed the landing check list! That was enough for me to tell the tower that I would go around. They instructed me to make right traffic for the other runway. I probably could have continued the first approach and made a good landing, but after two confusing issues, I decided going around and taking proper time for everything was the best option. The tower never complained.
I have seen airliners go around at Tucson Airport on sky blue clear days, and we wonder why they did that. Not being on the flight deck of that airplane, we might never know, but we can guess. Any number of things could have caused that crew to go around: landing speed, flap settings, some instrument indications they did not like, or even another airplane on the runway and the tower asked them to go around. The Passengers on board hate this, of course, but if they understood the safety aspects of going around, they might not hate it.
It is not our job to educate the public on aviation safety, but it is our job to educate pilots to be safer pilots. That is why the ARIZONA PILOTS ASSOCIATION does free safety seminars all over the state, in association with the FAASTeam program offered by the FAA. Look for a seminar near you and “Bring your Wingman.”